Osama bin Laden is not in Afghanistan, said a spokesman for Pashtun field commander Mohammad Zaman, whose detachments were engaged in two-week military action in Tora Bora, a fortified district in the Spinghar mountains, Southeastern Afghanistan. "The operation in Tora Bora is over" and there are no foreign mercenaries left in this area, Zaman's spokesman told the Afghan Islamic Press news agency. According to the spokesman, Zaman's detachment seized 16 Al-Qaeda militants. There are captives in other detachments too, he said. In the past two days, US aviation flew reconnaissance sorties around Tora Bora but did not raid it. In the meantime, Pashtuns and servicemen from the USA and Britain are exploring local caves and bunkers in search of more information about Al-Qaeda. Mohammad Qassem Fahim, the Defence Minister for the Afghan provisional government, said in Kabul on Wednesday that bin Laden and his entourage had probably escaped to Pakistan. According to Arab media reports, around 400 Al-Qaeda militants from Afghanistan were captured by Pakistani authorities and local Pashtun tribes.
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