Taleban spiritual leader Mullah Omar and terrorist number one Osama bin Laden are alive and hiding in Afghanistan, spokesman Mohammad Habil for the Northern Alliance said in Kabul on Thursday. In his words, Mullah Omar and bin Laden are hiding either in the mountains outside Kandahar or in the mountains near Jelalabad, the capital of the neighbouring Nangarhar province. Meanwhile, former Taleban ambassador in Islamabad Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef told journalists on Wednesday evening that he had just had a telephone conversation with Mullah Omar, who said he was safe. Islamabad broke off diplomatic relations with the Taleban and closed down their embassy in November, but the former ambassador is still allowed to stay in Pakistan as a private person. For today, Kandahar is the last stronghold of the fundamentalists. US marines deployed 90 km away from the province's capital of Kandahar, are being reinforced with new troops, while fighting between the local Pashtun tribes and the Taleban continues in the area between the city of Kandahar and the Pakistani border. Commenting on the US marines' deployment outside Kandahar, Zaeef assured that the Taleban would prevail and take a huge death toll of the Americans. The major forces of the Taleban have not as yet participated in the combat activities. They left the northern and central provinces and are currently stationed outside Kandahar. By some estimates, up to 12,000 Taleban soldiers and some 5,000 foreign mercenaries, mainly Arabs from Al-Qaeda terrorist network of Osama bin Laden, are staying in Kandahar now.
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