Accessibility links

Deadline Passes With No Sign of Al-Qaida Surrender - 2001-12-12

The deadline for al-Qaida supporters and fighters to surrender at the Tora Bora cave complex has passed with no sign yet they are giving up.

Anti-Taleban commanders leading the assault on Tora Bora say Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida fighters had agreed to come down from the mountains after more than a week of 'round-the-clock U.S. air strikes and ground attacks. But the 0330 UTC deadline has come and gone without any sign they are giving up.

Haji Mohammad Zaman, commander of the local forces, said late Tuesday that the al-Qaida fighters had asked for and been given a cease-fire. He says all attacks by his forces and by American planes were suspended because the al-Qaida fighters had promised to surrender.

Commander Zaman says all al-Qaida member who surrender will be handed over to the United Nations.

Officials at the Defense Department have expressed some skepticism at the reports and say they will continue with their assault on the cave and tunnel complex. There was concern suspending the attack might give Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders an opportunity to escape.

Pakistani troops and members of the U.S. Tenth Mountain Division have been sent to seal off the border. But, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said that doing so is easier said than done.

The Pentagon says a 7.5 ton "daisy cutter", the largest conventional bomb in the U.S. arsenal, was dropped in eastern Afghanistan, over the weekend, in hopes of killing senior al-Qaida leaders.

An American television network says that shortly after the bomb exploded Afghan troops began receiving frantic radio and satellite telephone calls from al-Qaida members.

Whether Osama bin Laden is in the area remains unclear.

Commander Zaman, who has been saying for days the al-Qaida leader is in Tora Bora, said late Tuesday he is not sure, anymore.