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Alliance captures Tora Bora, Osama escapes
 
KABUL: Anti-Taliban forces have captured the main base of Osama Bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan, but failed to find the Saudi-born militant, a military spokesman said on Friday.

"The last and main base of Osama in Tora Bora was captured last night," Mohammad Habeel, a spokesman for the militarily dominant Northern Alliance, said, adding that there had been fierce resistance as the assault was pressed home.

"Our troops led by commander Hazrat Ali said that we have taken almost all of Tora Bora and its main caves. We have staged a mopping up operation to clear remaining parts of Tora Bora."

He said Arab family members, including women, had been captured, along with weapons and vehicles, but there was no sign of Bin Laden, leader of the mainly Arab al-Qaeda network.

"Osama was not in Tora Bora during the past days of fighting and if he had been, he has probably slipped into Pakistan," Habeel said.

The strategic town of Spin Boldak between the Pakistani border and Kandahar, which was under Taliban control also fell on Friday morning at dawn, the Al-Jazeera satellite television reported.

Taliban has also fiven up arms in Helmand and Zabul provinces, according to a Taliban official.
( REUTERS )

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