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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 December 2005, 22:39 GMT
'Bin Laden deputy' lauds Taleban
Ayman al-Zawahri, shown on a video aired by al-Jazeera on 17 June 2005
Tapes purportedly of Zawahri have been released periodically
Al-Qaeda's deputy leader has claimed the Taleban still control large parts of Afghanistan, according to a tape broadcast on a Arabic TV channel.

The speaker, said to be Ayman al-Zawahri, said the Taleban was "waging a sustained guerrilla campaign against the crusaders and apostates".

Al-Arabiya satellite television said it had only just obtained the tape and could not tell when it was recorded.

More than 1,400 people have died in unrest in Afghanistan this year.

It is the worst toll since US-led forces ousted the Taleban in late 2001.

The Islamic administration is, thanks be to God, still present - it controls large parts of the east and south of Afghanistan and is waging a sustained guerrilla campaign against the crusaders and apostates
Taped message

Previous recordings from Zawahri have been broadcast periodically.

"The Islamic administration is, thanks be to God, still present," the speaker on the new tape states.

"It controls large parts of the east and south of Afghanistan and is waging a sustained guerrilla campaign against the crusaders and apostates."

Zawahri and Bin Laden are believed to be at large in mountainous areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

A videotape of Zawahri, recently broadcast on al-Jazeera television, was later said to have been three months old.

In that tape, Zawahri said Bin Laden was still alive.

The latest tape followed fresh violence in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, two militants and one policeman were killed in eastern Afghanistan after militants clashed with Afghan and US forces, officials said.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ruled out any rapid pullout of US forces from Afghanistan.

He said while the US was planning to reduce its troops in Afghanistan, withdrawing forces rapidly would impede operations against al-Qaeda fighters and their allies.


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