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Pentagon Checking For Senior Taleban In Latest Captured Detainees - 2002-01-24


U.S. forces in Afghanistan have captured 27 suspected al-Qaida and Taleban fighters in a raid north of Kandahar.

Defense officials said Thursday that while widespread fighting in Afghanistan is over, there still remain pockets of Taleban and al-Qaida resistance scattered around the country.

U.S. forces have now broken up one of those pockets in a raid on what Pentagon officials say were two compounds believed to be used by Taleban and al-Qaida leaders some 100 kilometers north of Kandahar.

"Our forces attacked two compounds and detained 27 individuals. There were enemy forces killed in this action," said Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff. "And one U.S. Special Forces soldier was slightly injured. He was wounded in the ankle and has been evacuated."

General Myers declined to give additional details, saying U.S. forces still have targets in the area under observation. He says there is the potential for further combat operations.

It is not clear whether any of the new detainees are senior Taleban or al-Qaida figures. He said that is being sorted out right now.

The new detainees raise the total number of Taleban and al-Qaida fighters held by U.S. forces to 455. Of those, 158 are being detained at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirms he ordered the temporary suspension of further detainee transfers to Cuba until additional detention facilities are built.

"I wanted the flights discontinued until we completed some more space," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld says the decision is unrelated to any concerns about the treatment of the detainees that have been raised by international human rights groups.

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