U.S. halts bombing of complex

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

KABUL, Afghanistan -- U.S. warplanes halted their fierce bombing of a mountain riddled with suspected terrorist dens on Tuesday as American Marines scoured the outskirts of their largest Afghan base for armed Taliban and al-Qaida holdouts.

U.S. officials in Washington said the military was considering new targets in its hunt for die-hard supporters of bin Laden and his Taliban allies now that the camp had been eradicated, with 50 caves sealed and every building flattened.

An official said the Pentagon has intelligence indicating Taliban or al-Qaida -- or their weapons -- may be hidden at what he called a handful of places. The official declined to name the places.

"We keep discovering additional caves and additional tunnels and additional caches of weapons and intelligence information ... Very, very sizable arsenals are being discovered," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters on Tuesday. "Tanks and artillery pieces and surface-to-air missiles and small arms and all kinds of things."

In the southern city of Kandahar, where U.S.-led coalition forces have established their major post, an active threat remained from remaining enemy fighters.

U.S. Marine Capt. Dan Greenwood said patrols spotted seven men who appeared to be armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers heading toward an abandoned mud house outside the base perimeter around sunset Monday.

The same area was used by gunmen last week to launch an attack while a C-17 transport plane took off with the first batch of 20 prisoners heading for a high-security jail at the U.S. Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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