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Monday, 7 January, 2002, 15:50 GMT
Fresh US attacks on Afghanistan
US air strikes near Sarghich, north of Kabul
The fresh strikes have been described as intense
The United States has launched fresh air and ground strikes in eastern Afghanistan in its continuing hunt for remaining members of the al-Qaeda network, according to reports.

Troops aboard four helicopters were said to have landed near the town of Zhawar in Paktia province on a search and destroy mission.


I think the Americans are extremely careful

Lakhdar Brahimi, UN special envoy

The soldiers are reported to have arrived amid overnight bombing by US fighter jets in the area.

The fresh strikes were described as intense by the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press.

The news agency said the operation indicated that the US believed fighters of the former Taleban commander, Jalaluddin Haqqani, were still hiding in the area.

No details were available of the exact damage or casualties.

Elders meet

In the capital Kabul, the United Nation's special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, told journalists that he had not requested a halt to the US strikes.

A US marine prepares for action in Helmand province
Ground troops have launched a new search operation

"They know that in some cases civilians have been hit and I am sure they will exercise maximum care to avoid these accidents in the future", he said.

There has been growing concern about the mounting civilian death toll in Afghanistan, with calls for the US to suspend its bombing.

Meanwhile, tribal elders met in Khost in Paktia province to decide the fate of 14-year-old boy suspected of killing an American soldier.

Sergeant Nathan Ross Chapman was killed in an ambush on Friday.

Sources in Khost told Reuters news agency that a tribal jirga or council would decide whether to hand over the teenager to the US military.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Miron reports from Kabul
"This is in line with American military policy"
See also:

05 Jan 02 | South Asia
Profile: Mullah Zaeef
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