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Afghan Defense Ministry says US Bombing Will Continue


Afghanistan's defense ministry says the U.S. bombing campaign in the Central Asian country will continue until the last pockets of al-Qaida and Taleban resistance are crushed. The statement came a little more than a day after the same official said the U.S. bombing campaign must stop.

Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Habeel says Afghanistan agrees with President Bush that the campaign will continue, until the last remaining pockets of terrorism have been eliminated.

Mr. Habeel said some districts in the eastern province of Paktia have not yet been totally cleared, so the bombardment and ground attacks should continue.

Just Friday, Mr. Habeel said that the U.S. bombing campaign must stop. And just hours later, the U.S. defense department said it was keeping all military options open.

On Saturday, the Pentagon said American planes struck a complex occupied by the Taleban in the eastern province of Paktia. But the Afghan Islamic Press reports it remains unclear if there were any al-Qaida or Taleban fighters in the area.

The province has been the site of other controversial U.S. bombings, and tribal elders there are pressing for an end to U.S. bombing in the region.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces have transferred more suspected al-Qaida and Taleban detainees to a facility at Afghanistan's Kandahar airport. They are being held for questioning about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

Military officials say more than 60 detainees from 14 different countries have been transferred from Shibergan to Kandahar. Shibergan prison currently holds 3,000 prisoners, 900 of them foreigners.

There are now believed to be more than 120 detainees at the Marine base at Kandahar. The facility can hold 250.

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