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'Osama not hiding in Afghanistan'

world Updated: Sep 12, 2007 00:38 IST
Simon Gardner

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is not hiding in Afghanistan, the insurgency racked country’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

“I know that he is not in Afghanistan, but I don’t have information where he is,” said Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta.

“Our intelligence information and activities of Al Qaeda...and also the information of Afghans in the anti-terror war all give...information that he is not in Afghanistan,” he said.

The Taliban, the country’s former rulers, sheltered bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network prior to their overthrow in late 2001.

“(Given) the enmity between him and the Afghan population...because he was the main creator of a terrorist and dictatorship regime against the population of Afghanistan, it is impossible that he can find support among the civilians of Afghanistan,” Spanta added.

“That is the main reason I believe that he is not here,” he added, saying Osama’s capture was “not important” compared to the wider goal of destroying the international terrorist network active in the region.