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Afghanistan: Bin Laden's Fighters Skirmish With Afghan Forces

Kabul, 10 December 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Fighters loyal to suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden resisted Afghan forces attacking their eastern mountain stronghold today. Western news agencies say there was a brief skirmish in the Tora Bora area between bombing raids by U.S. planes.

Bin Laden's whereabouts have not been confirmed, but U.S. defense officials and Afghan tribal commanders said they have reason to believe he may be in the mountainous area near Pakistan.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said that if bin Laden is captured alive, the U.S. wants him to face trial in an American military tribunal. Cheney ruled out a trial in an international court.

Cheney also said the U.S. had obtained a video found in Afghanistan that makes clear bin Laden's responsibility for the 11 September suicide hijacking attacks on America. Cheney gave no further details. The U.S. has not yet decided whether to make the tape public.

In southern Afghanistan, the Afghan Islamic Press reports that U.S. troops entered Kandahar today after camping outside the city for weeks.

Western agencies also quote witnesses as seeing U.S. troops moving in a convoy of 30 tanks towards Kandahar, with helicopter gunships providing air cover to the convoy.

The recently appointed Afghan interim political leader Hamid Karzai said he successfully brokered a deal to end the conflict between rival warlords over who will administer Kandahar.

On the humanitarian front, Uzbekistan has reopened the Friendship Bridge to Afghanistan. A train loaded with 1,000 tons of grain and flour crossed the span into Afghanistan yesterday. The reopened bridge over the Amu Darya River is expected to speed aid deliveries to needy Afghans.