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Coalition Still Looking for Pockets of Resistance in Afghanistan - 2002-04-05


The commanding general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan says the country remains a dangerous place as troops still search intensively for al-Qaida and Taleban fighters.

General Tommy Franks says he is aware of reports that leaflets have been found in eastern Afghanistan offering rewards for killing or capturing foreign troops.

The Army four-star general says it is another indication that al-Qaida and Taleban forces remain a threat.

"Afghanistan remains a very, very dangerous place," he explained. "It's a dangerous place for our people to operate. It's a dangerous place for coalition forces to operate and as we all recognize there are groups of enemy troops still in that country and that's why I think we've all been a little reluctant to predict how long our operations to kill or capture those enemy troops are going to go on."

Coalition operations to remove the Taleban from power and to eliminate the al-Qaida terrorist network in Afghanistan began six months ago.

Speaking from his headquarters in the southern U.S. state of Florida, General Franks says U.S. and other foreign soldiers, as well as Afghan fighters, are still looking for pockets of resistance. But he says he cannot predict whether the next combat operation will be similar to the recent Operation Anaconda which involved just over 2,000 coalition troops and led to the reported deaths of several hundred al-Qaida in eastern Afghanistan.

"When we seize upon an area where we identify enemy soldiers then we will go there and clear it in a fashion that might look like Anaconda, might be considerably smaller, could be larger," he said. "We just don't know so what we do is react to our intelligence and simply go to confirm or deny and then kill or capture the enemy forces that we find there."

Meanwhile, General Franks says he was not surprised by the detentions of scores of people in the Afghan capital, Kabul, in connection with an alleged plot against interim leader Hamid Karzai.

He says U.S. forces have been concerned for some time about possible internal threats to the fledgling government.

But he added no connection has yet been made between the alleged plotters and al-Qaida or the Taleban.

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