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Rumsfeld: Fighting Continues Around Tora Bora

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

MILITARY CAMP NEAR AFGHANISTAN, Dec. 16, 2001 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said an intense battle is raging in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan.

"(Coalition air forces) have fired off more than 200 105mm howitzer rounds and thousands of lower-caliber ordnance," Rumsfeld said during an in-flight interview. He noted one air strike in which the plume of the explosion spread more than two kilometers.

"(American and opposition forces) have captured a number of Al Qaeda; they've killed a number of Al Qaeda; (and) they've wounded a number of Al Qaeda," the secretary said.

Marines near Kandahar searched an area called Tarnak Farm. They've gathered up a good deal of potential intelligence material, documentation, and items to be tested for nuclear, biological or chemical threats, Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld said he doesn't know Osama Bin Laden's precise location. "We continue to receive mixed messages," he said.

The secretary is visiting American troops in the area. "You get a chance to talk to real people who are doing real things," he said about the visits.

"We've got a lot of terrific people who have been out here doing a great job – a different type of job," Rumsfeld said referring to the nontraditional emphasis on special operations that has typified American involvement in Afghanistan to this point. "It is not a set piece for the U.S. military, and we need to understand what they've been doing, how they are doing it, and what they think."

Rumsfeld is on a six-day tour of several Central Asian and European nations. He is scheduled to return to Washington Dec. 19.


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