Saturday, January 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India 


M A I N   N E W S

Omar in Bagran tunnel
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
The deposed Taliban supremo Mulla Omar is holed up in Bagran in southern Afghanistan and will be captured very soon — dead or alive.

Well-placed sources here disclosed today that the one-eyed former ruler of Afghanistan was hiding in an underground structure — possibly a cave or a tunnel — in Bagran near Kandahar.

The Americans know exactly where Omar is and had been making pointed bombardments on his suspected hideouts for some days earlier this week. The bombardments stopped after top commanders of the surrounded Mulla sent feelers to the Americans for negotiations.

The negotiations have been on for the last two days between the Americans and the Mulla’s commanders.

It is understood that the Americans are not completely disinclined not to send him to the gallows despite the repeated American announcements of dealing equally sternly with terrorists as well as their harbourers. Americans are prepared to grant him clemency provided the Mulla is able to give them specific leads about Osama bin Laden which could lead to his capture — dead or alive.

Sources whose information is based on reports from local Afghans said the negotiations were likely to yield a solution “very soon, probably within days”.

It is understood that apart from Mulla Omar himself, his commanders are negotiating about their own welfare also.

However, it is a wheels-within-wheels kind of a scenario right now as the story of Mulla Omar remains in the domains of mystery. There are several questions which remain unanswered. First of all, it is not known for sure whether he had actually managed to escape to Gilgit in Pakistan occupied Kashmir last month or was it a false alarm ?

If indeed he had managed to reach Gilgit why then he came back to Afghanistan? Was it because of increasing pressure from Pakistan’s ISI?

Sources did not rule out the possibility of some of Mulla Omar’s top commanders revolting against him and holding him captive in Bagran.


Kabul-Delhi airlink to resume on Jan 15
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
The first air link between India and Afghanistan, which was snapped almost a decade ago, is likely to be resumed from January 15 with New Delhi allowing Mahan Air of Iran to operate two weekly flights via Kabul.

A bilateral agreement to this effect was reached here last evening between a visiting Iranian delegation and India to allow the flight connecting Teheran and New Delhi weeks after a new government took over in Kabul, Civil Aviation Ministry sources said.

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