Militants flee Kunduz following Osama's death
KUNDUZ CITY (PAN): Local officials on Friday said insurgents have started fleeing northern Kunduz province following the killing of AlQaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, but the Taliban, denying the claim, vowed to continue their fight.
The world's most wanted man was killed on Monday in an American raid on his compound in the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan, close to a military academy, only 60 km from the capital Islamabad.
Pakistani authorities are also holding eight or nine children who were found there after the US commandos left. The corpses of at least three slain men were also left behind, while bin Laden's body was taken and buried at sea.
"Insurgents in Kunduz are in a search for new hideouts and they are fleeing the province following Osama's death," a security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
He said the Al Qaeda had been active in the province over the past three years. The terrorist network led the Taliban in their attacks on foreign and local forces, he added. The death of Osama dealt a great blow to the group's operations, the official said.
According to officials Al Qaeda members were operating in the Imam Sahib district, which borders Tajikistan, over the past three years.
The district chief, Mohammad Ayub Haqyar, said the demise of Osama served a huge setback to the morale of the terrorist group in the district. A number of Al Qaeda operatives had fled to Pakistan, with several Taliban groups following their footsteps, he claimed.
However, Haqyar said the Taliban were trying to keep their ties unbroken with Al Qaeda as part of their efforts to destabilise the district.
A month ago, the 303 Pamir police zone commander, Gen. Daud Daud, said nearly 100 Al Qaeda men, including Chechens, Uzbeks and Tajik nationals, had been operating in the Imam Sahib district.
Residents say though the death of Osama had hurt his group, the war is no solution to the problem. They also call on the government to urge the Taliban to quit their ties with Al Qaeda and join the peace process.
Mohammad Din, a resident of Chahar Dara district, said the Taliban had secretly launched their activities a month after they were driven away in a joint Afghan and international troops' operation. He also said several militants had left for Pakistan after the death of Osama.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the fighters had intensified their operations against foreign troops compared to the past. He denied the fighters were trying to flee the province, saying such baseless claims were meant to boost the morale of government forces.
The rebel spokesman vowed to continue and speed up their fight against foreign invaders after the killing of Osama Bin Laden.