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Bombs and Peacekeeping Forces Descend on Afghanistan

Three months into the war in Afghanistan, the US continues to relentlessly bomb eastern Afghanistan as the international peacekeeping force trickles in to secure the capital.

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Destination Kabul

The inevitable causalities on the American side are now beginning to show up in mine-littered Afghanistan.

On Monday, tribal elders in the Khost Paktia province are to meet to decide the fate of a 14-year-old Afghan boy, suspected of killing US Sergeant Nathan Ross Chapman in an ambush last week. Nine other US soldiers and a CIA agent have been killed in or near Afghanistan since the war began on October 7.

Determined to wipe out terror

But this has not deterred the US from continuing with its bombing of suspected Taliban camps and hideouts in eastern Afghanistan.

The Afghan Islamic Press reported on Sunday that US aircraft had bombed several suspected al Qaeda targets in the Spinghar mountain range of eastern Afghanistan. The region was also being combed by US ground troops and Afghan tribal forces.

Bombing will not stop

Afghanistan’s interim government has thrown its weight behind America, despite concern about rising civilian causalities. Hamid Karzai, leader of the interim administration said that he was determined to arrest the cleric (Mullah Omar) sought by the United States.

In Afghanistan's capital Kabul, the UN special envoy to the country said he had not requested a halt to the US bombing that has killed civilians as well as fighters from bin Laden's al Qaeda network and his Taliban protectors.

"I think the Americans are extremely careful," UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters at Kabul's international airport. "They know that in some cases civilians have been hit, and I am sure they will exercise maximum care to avoid these accidents in the future," he said.

The new US envoy to Kabul, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the US bombing campaign would continue until its aims were met.

US rounds up Taliban members

The US military detained the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef over the weekend.

Zaeef, the Taliban's principal spokesman during the war in Afghanistan and its highest ranking official to be captured, joined hundreds of detainees facing interrogation.

US forces have also taken custody of Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi, who ran some of bin Laden's training camps. Detained in Kandahar, he is the highest-ranking al Qaeda member to be captured.

US forces have captured a total of 307 Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners, who are being interrogated for information on bin Laden, Mullah Omar and al Qaeda's international network.

Many are expected to be moved to a U.S. military base on the coast of Cuba, and the Pentagon said that military police and extra troops were being sent to beef up security at the base.

Inspired by Osama bin Laden?

In a shocking incident in the United States, a 15-year-old American, who apparently expressed sympathy for bin Laden flew a light plane into a high-rise office block in Tampa on Saturday.

He is believed to have left behind a suicide note, saying he was inspired by the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York.

International peacekeepers get down to business

British paratroopers arrived on Monday to take part in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that will ensure security in Kabul.

About 50 French military engineers are already in Kabul securing Kabul's battle-scarred international airport. French explosive experts have spent the last three days checking the airport for mines and booby traps.

France plans to send more than 500 troops to join the international stabilisation force in Afghanistan.

Germany gears up for its role

The first troops from the German Armed Forces together with 30 Dutch paratroopers are due to leave for Kabul on Tuesday.

The first German contingent of 70 is made up of paratroopers, signals engineers and medics. They are expected to fly to Afghanistan via Turkey.

German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping says the main task of the advanced guard will be to set up facilities for the main body of more than a thousand German troops scheduled to join the international security force.

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