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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 06:57 GMT
Rumsfeld warns of 'messy' war
Anti-Taleban fighters watch US airplanes bomb the Tora Bora region
US planes are bombing the Tora Bora complex
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said that most leaders of the Taleban and al-Qaeda militant groups are alive and at large in Afghanistan despite the military campaign against them.

Map showing Tora Bora
The campaign is concentrating on a cave complex in the Tora Bora region, where, according to one international humanitarian group, scores of civilians have been killed in recent days by US bombs.

Following a bomb strike elsewhere in Afghanistan which accidentally killed three US soldiers and five Northern Alliance fighters, the Pentagon has launched an investigation.

Mr Rumsfeld vowed to "get" the leaders of the Taleban and al-Qaeda, while admitting the campaign was a "complicated, long, difficult, messy, dirty job".

'Human shields'

"They're still alive," he told CNN.

"The senior leadership for the most part is there. But we're going to get them."

Sergeant Jefferson Davis
Sergeant Jefferson Davis: Killed by friendly fire
Mr Rumsfeld added that the Taleban's supreme leader, Mullah Omar, was "every bit as vicious and terroristic in his behaviour" as al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Earlier, the defence secretary accused the Taleban of using civilians in the city of Kandahar, which is being attacked by opposition forces with US support, as "human shields".

Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said the bombardment was focused on the Tora Bora cave region because al-Qaeda members were believed to be sheltering there.

She said that "some al-Qaeda leadership" may have been hit but could not confirm "names or positions".

Botched raid

The international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres reports that more than 80 Afghan civilians have been killed and 50 wounded in US air strikes around Tora Bora in recent days.

MSF had itself recovered the bodies.

The Pentagon insists that all its strikes in the Tora Bora region have successfully hit their designated targets.

US officials have confirmed that a third American soldier was killed when a US aircraft accidentally bombed an area near Kandahar, and it has announced an investigation.

An injured soldier died while he was being flown out of the area alongside 19 others wounded in the B-52 strike.

Five Afghan anti-Taleban fighters were also killed by the 900-kilogram (2,000-pound) "smart bomb".

The raid happened at about 0530 GMT on Wednesday after US special forces called in air support.

It is not yet clear whether the bomb's satellite guidance system failed, or whether it was given the wrong co-ordinates.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Lister reports from Washington
"It is going to be a very complicated process to find out what happened"
See also:

16 Oct 01 | Americas
Why bombing can go wrong
04 Dec 01 | South Asia
Taleban 'defectors' in Kandahar appeal
02 Dec 01 | South Asia
Taleban told 'surrender or die'
03 Dec 01 | South Asia
America's home-grown Taleban fighter
28 Nov 01 | South Asia
Hunt hots up for Bin Laden
03 Dec 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Afghan refugee misery
05 Dec 01 | Americas
US shocked by American Taleban
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