U.S. warplanes struck Taleban positions in Kabul and in Afghanistans eastern Paktia province on Friday targeting areas where Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network are believed to have built a tunnel complex.
The Taleban on Friday claimed to have captured a rebel commander who has emerged recently as an important ally of Afghanistans exiled King Zahir Shah. Taleban authorities say they have captured Abdul Haq, a legendary Mujahedin commander who fought Soviet troops 20 years ago.
The Afghan Islamic Press quotes Taleban sources as saying Mr. Haq was captured at Azra, in Logar province south of Kabul. There is no independent confirmation of the report. Taleban authorities say U.S. helicopters tried to rescue Mr. Haq and about 50 of his supporters when it became apparent they were surrounded, but they were unsuccessful.
Abdul Haq had recently returned to Pakistan from Dubai to recruit former Pashtun Mujahedin commanders and Taleban commanders unhappy with their leaders, into an anti-Taleban coalition under the banner of former King Zahir Shah. In a recent interview with VOA, Abdul Haq said some elements of the Taleban should be included in any future government in Afghanistan.
"I do not think anybody wants to exclude the Taleban. I think many people have tried all along to include the Taleban and make them part of the structure of a future government," he said. "But the problem was, is the Taleban was never willing to be part of the solution or share power with other people. They always want to have total and complete power. That is why it is not because people do not want them, but they do not want to share anything."
On Thursday, about 1,000 exiled Pashtun political leaders ended a two day meeting in Peshawar, Pakistan calling on King Zahir Shah to help form a multi-ethnic government.
Meanwhile U.S. warplanes continued striking front line Taleban positions on Friday as well as targets in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. Heavy strikes were reported near the Bagram airport just to the north of Kabul where Taleban forces are reported to be holding their lines despite the intense bombardment.