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Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2003

Afghan rebel boasts of evading US

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
A still from the Hekmatyar video

A message attributed to rebel Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar says he has managed to escape arrest by US forces several times this year.

The message came in a video-tape and cassette delivered to offices of the BBC and the Associated Press news agency in Pakistan.

Last February, the US declared Mr Hekmatyar to be a terrorist.

He is opposed to the central government of Hamid Karzai and urges war against foreign troops in Afghanistan.

'Helicopters overhead'

The BBC's Rahimullah Yusufzai in Peshawar in Pakistan says the tapes show Mr Hekmatyar in good health.

They contain a long statement by Mr Hekmatyar narrating his close encounters with US troops in Afghanistan.

"There were occasions when I stayed in a place that was hardly 500 yards from a US firebase," Mr Hekmatyar says.

"The US helicopters virtually flew over my head and we could hit them with a Kalashnikov rifle. But the Americans were unable to locate my hideout."

'A lot of trouble'

Earlier this week, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he was unable to comment on reports that US officials were trying to persuade Mr Hekmatyar's supporters to disarm.

But he said such a move would be worth pursuing.

"We're constantly trying to get more people to be with us than against us, and goodness knows, Hekmatyar is not with us," Mr Rumsfeld said.

"He's a person who's caused a whole of a lot of trouble in that part of the country."



SEE ALSO
Afghan warlord threatens foreigners
25 Dec 02 |  South Asia
Profile: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
23 Mar 10 |  South Asia
Rumsfeld backs targeting rebels
10 Dec 03 |  South Asia
Afghan war criminals still unpunished
09 Dec 03 |  South Asia
Country profile: Afghanistan
08 Nov 03 |  Country profiles

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