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Hunt for Bin Laden Intensifies - 2001-12-14

The hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan is intensifying, as Afghan fighters, backed by heavy U.S. air strikes, close in on his last suspected hide out in the Tora Bora region.

Pentagon officials say there are signs that Osama bin Laden may be with a group of al-Qaida fighters bottled up in the Tora Bora area.

But chief Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke tells reporters his exact whereabouts remain uncertain. "You get pieces of information and reports of all kinds, some of which could lead you to believe he is in that region. But we do not have his precise location," she said.

Defense officials say the area is under intense non-stop U.S. bombardment. More U.S. special forces troops have also moved into the Tora Bora area to help in the hunt.

Afghan forces are leading the ground effort. Pakistani troops have been arrayed along their country's border nearby to prevent any possible escape by Osama bin Laden or any other al-Qaida fighters.

The United States blames Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida for last September's suicide terrorist attacks, which left more than 3,000 dead in New York's World Trade Center, Washington's Pentagon and aboard a crashed plane in Pennsylvania.

On Thursday, the Bush administration released a videotape, found by U.S. forces in Afghanistan last month, in which Osama bin Laden gloats about the bloody devastation caused by the attacks.