ISLAMABAD, Dec. 18 Kyodo
An anti-Taliban eastern alliance commander announced Tuesday evening that the Tora Bora mountainous region in southeastern Afghanistan has been cleared of all al-Qaida fighters and the military operation there has ended.
''The operation in Tora Bora has come to an end today. No al-Qaida fighter is reported hidden anywhere in the area,'' Commander Hazrat Ali told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) in an interview from Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan.
Asked about the presence of U.S. troops in the area, Ali told the Pakistan-based news agency that they had come to Ningarhar Province, where Tora Bora is located, to coordinate operations against the al-Qaida fighters and were still in the province, but would soon leave.
The anti-Taliban fighters, aided by heavy U.S. aerial bombing, had captured the Tora Bora cave complex and adjoining areas on Sunday but had continued to comb the area for al-Qaida fighters who may have been hiding or trying to make their way across the mountains to Pakistan.
He said his forces were holding 45 to 50 al-Qaida fighters as prisoners to be handed over to the interim government of Hamid Karzai, which is due to be installed in Kabul on Saturday.
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