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Taleban: bin Laden, Mullah Omar are Safe - 2001-10-07

As the U.S.-led military strikes against Taleban targets continued Monday, Taleban authorities said their leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, and alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden are safe. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry says it hopes the U.S. and allied action takes every care to minimize harm to the Afghan people.

A statement from the Taleban Ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salaam Zaeef, condemns the strikes against targets in Afghanistan saying "Afghanistan is the victim of American arrogance and expansion." Ambassador Zaeef read the statement to reporters shortly after the attacks began saying the military action is designed to destroy the Taleban's Islamic system.

"America will never achieve its political goals by launching horrendous attacks on the Muslim people of Afghanistan," he said.

Ambassador Zaaef says the military action will unify the Afghan people against America. President Bush says the attacks are a strike against terrorism not the Afghan people.

Pakistan's foreign ministry has released a statement saying it regrets that diplomatic efforts to convince the Taleban to surrender Osama bin Laden and members of his al-Qaida organization did not succeed. The statement also says Paksitan hopes the allied action remains clearly targeted and achieves the aims of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf is scheduled to address the nation in a press conference Monday. Over the past few days General Musharraf has said evidence the United States provided to Pakistan indicates that Osama bin Laden and members of his al-Qaida organization were involved in terrorism.

Pakistani supporters of the Taleban have denounced the military action. A spokesman for Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan's largest religious political party, calls the action "an attack against Islam," and warns of a backlash within Pakistan's military against President Musharraf. Other smaller, religious and political groups called for a "jihad" or holy war against the United States and its allies.