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Central & South Asia
Taliban leader says bin Laden alive
Mullah Dadullah says al-Qaeda head supervised attack against US vice-president.
Last Modified: 01 May 2007 11:56 GMT

 Saudi intelligence services had reported that Osama Bin Laden had died of typhoid [EPA]


Mullah Dadullah, a senior Taliban commander, has told Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview that Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda's leader, is alive.
 
Dadullah said bin Laden planned and supervised the "suicide" operation which targeted Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, in Bargam air force base during his visit to Afghanistan in February.
Dadullah said: "Thank God, he is alive, we get updated information about it. Thank God, he plans the operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
"You may remember the martyr operation inside the Bagram base which targeted a senior US official ... that operation was a result of his wise planning.
"He planned that operation in details and guided us through it. The operation was a success."
 
The interview was conducted by Ahmed Zaidan, Al Jazeera's Islamabad bureau chief. The channel broadcast excerpts of the interview on Wednesday.
 
Afterwards, asked for her reaction to Dadullah's assertion that bin Laden ordered the Bagram attack, Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman, said : "It's an interesting claim but I haven't seen any intelligence that would support that."
 
About 14 people were killed, including one American and one South Korean soldier, in the February 27 suicide bombing, which the Taliban said targeted Cheney.
 
A US official then said Cheney was about half a mile away on the base and was not in danger.
 
Afghan soldiers killed
 
Meanwhile, on the ground, at least seven Afghan soldiers were killed on Wednesday in a roadside bomb blast in southeastern Afghanistan, with an army commander linking the attack to Taliban fighters.
 

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And a district governor in the same province survived a suicide attack close to his vehicle.

 

A man detonated his explosives close to the vehicle of the official from Paktika, which is on the border with Pakistan.
 
The bomber was the only individual to die in the attack.
 
Elsewhere, police foiled a suicide attack on Wednesday when they seized a man in the province of Kabul with explosives strapped to his body, Zalmay Khan, deputy police chief, said.
 
Army casualties
 
Wednesday's troop fatalities occurred as they were travelling in an army vehicle along a dirt road in the Waza Haw district of the province of Paktika.
 
The Afghan soldiers were travelling in a 10-vehicle convoy, said the army's General Murad Ali.
 
The powerful blast destroyed their vehicle, leaving seven soldiers dead and one wounded.
 
Taliban fighters use roadside bombs and have launched suicide bombings at Afghan security forces and thousands of foreign troops in the country assisting them.
 
Despite a crackdown by Nato forces in Afghanistan's Helmand province, Taliban fighters maintain a strong presence in the region.
 
Fierce resistance
 
Nato's Operation Achilles is into its seventh week but is meeting fierce resistance from the Taliban.
 

Taliban fighters possess significant amounts
of explosive for anti-tank bombs

A team featuring James Bays, Al Jazeera's Afghanistan correspondent, met some Taliban fighters in Helmand province standing on top of a burnt-out Nato military vehicle.
 
A cameraman attached to Bays' team was taken to a separate area where the Taliban showed him a store-room of explosives, which were in the process of being converted into anti-tank bombs.
 
The Taliban fighters also said they possess anti-aircraft weaponry, although they did not permit Al Jazeera to film such equipment.
 
"Thanks to God we have good guns ... we are ready all the time to face them [Nato and Afghan government forces] in a battle," one Taliban fighter said.
 
Recent killings
 
On Tuesday, a police vehicle was ambushed by fighters in the province of Herat, killing four officers and wounding two, Noor Khan Nekzad, a spokesman for the provincial police chief, said.
 
Earlier this week, two separate roadside bombs killed eight Afghan intelligence agents, one soldier and one driver in the eastern province of Laghman.
 
And on Monday a roadside bomb killed two policemen in southern province of Zabul. On Sunday, fighters beheaded another intelligence agent in the neighbouring province of Ghazni.
 
Last week, a suicide bomber killed 10 policemen and wounded 40 others in the northern province of Kunduz.
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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