ISLAMABAD, Dec. 26 Kyodo
A further operation to search the caves of Tora Bora is needed, but chemicals would not be used to flush out members of the al-Qaida network who might be hiding there, a spokesman for the International Coalition against Terrorism said Wednesday.
''It is true that the caves at Tora Bora need to be investigated,'' Kenton Keith told a briefing, but denied reports the coalition may use chemicals to flush out al-Qaida fighters.
Al-Qaida was founded by Osama bin Laden, thought to be the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks on the United Sates.
Keith said the coalition has assessed that there are pockets of resistance in areas where there are caves and that air power would therefore continue to be deployed in such areas.
''We have made tremendous progress but we have not accomplished the goal. We are committed to finding bin Laden, al-Qaida terrorists and (Taliban leader) Mullah (Mohammed) Omar and we will find them and bring them to justice,'' he said. Omar is the supreme leader of the Taliban movement which was toppled by U.S.-led strikes and offensives by anti-Taliban forces.
The Tora Bora cave complex in Nangahar Province in eastern Afghanistan was the last stronghold of fleeing al-Qaida fighters.
Asked how long the military and air operations would continue in Afghanistan, Keith said for ''as long as we do not achieve our objectives.''
He denied any knowledge that uranium or enriched uranium had been found at any al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan. Some reports have said uranium has been found, suggesting the bin Laden network was working on a weapon of mass destruction.
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