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Afghanistan Demands U.S. Should End Bombing

Afghanistan's new government has demanded an end to U.S. bombing. Osama bin Laden is claimed to be hiding in Pakistan. Britain pledges additional aid for Afghanistan.

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Afghan villagers examine houses destroyed in the bombing campaign

Afghanistan's new government has demanded an end to the U.S. bombing raids. Defense ministry spokesman Mohammad Habeel told Reuters news agency that almost all remaining hideouts of the Taliban and the al Qaeda fighters had been destroyed.

Habeel said their remaining forces could be annihilated within three days. "We demand America stop its bombing of Afghanistan after this goal is achieved," he said.

Attack on convoy still controversial

Habeel's request indicates that the new Afghan government fears its authority could be undermined by the bombing raids. Last week the controversial bombing of a convoy caused dissatisfaction among Afghan tribes and elders. Up to 65 people were killed in the incident.

The U.S. claims members of the convoy shot at American planes. Locals, however, say the convoy consisted of Afghan elders on their way to attend the inauguration of the country's new government in Kabul.

The convoy could have been double-crossed. Enemies of the clan travelling in the convoy may have told the Pentagon that it contained al Qaeda fighters.

Where's Osama bin Laden?

The whereabouts of Osama bin Laden are still shrouded in mystery. On Friday, Afghanistan's Defense Minister General Mohammad Fahim said bin Laden has probably left the country for the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

Earlier, Afghan defense ministry spokesman Mohammad Habeel also claimed that bin Laden was in hiding in Pakistan. Habeel said supporters of a radical Islamic leader who helped to create the Taliban were sheltering bin Laden.

The Islamic leader in question has meanwhile dismissed Habeel's statement as a "joke". Habeel, however, has brushed aside that denial.

Britain pledges additional aid

Britain has pledged an extra 20 million pounds ($ 29 million) in aid to Afghanistan. The financial aid is meant to support the new Afghan government in its

effort to rebuild Afghanistan after decades of war.

Roughly half of the money is earmarked for services such as health and education, transport, communications and farming.

The new British aid money comes on top of some 40 million pounds ($ 38 million) Britain has already pledged to the war-torn country.

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