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More British Peacekeepers Arrive in Kabul - 2001-12-31


More British troops arrived in Afghanistan as negotiators initialed an agreement about operations of an international peacekeeping force under the interim government.

A convoy of about 70 British troops rolled into the capital, joining a contingent of British forces that has been on patrol for more than a week.

British officials and Afghanistan's interim government agreed on the final wording of an accord governing operations of the peacekeepers. British officials said the document must now go to the 17 countries that will contribute troops to the force.

British embassy spokesman John Sykes in Kabul says it could be several more days before the document is officially signed.

Differences within the new Afghan government over the size and duties of the British-led force delayed signing of the agreement, which was announced Sunday.

In another development, the Afghan Islamic Press reports U.S. bombing raids early Sunday killed nearly 100 villagers in eastern Afghanistan. The AIP says the attack destroyed many houses in the village of Naizi Qala in Paktia province.

The reports have not been confirmed, and there was no immediate response by American officials. The incident would be the latest in a series of controversial U.S. air attacks in the Paktia region.

Earlier his month there were reports that U.S. planes destroyed a convoy of tribal elders who were on their way to the inauguration of the interim government. The Pentagon said that they believed it was a valid target that was struck.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces have been questioning more of the suspected al-Qaida members in custody, seeking information about the whereabouts of accused terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

On Sunday, Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah said the Saudi-born militant is probably still in the country, but did not give further details.

And in southern Afganistan, U-S Marines are preparing to hand over their airport base to the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division. Nearly 140 suspected Taliban or al-Qaida members are being interrogated at the camp.

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