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Laden most likely in east Afghanistan: Musharraf

Many Saudis live in the Kunar area in east Afghanistan, and therefore, Osama is quite likely to be hiding in that region, the president writes in his book.a

india Updated: Sep 25, 2006 22:23 IST

In his book released on Monday, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said that his best guess is that Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is hiding somewhere in Afghanistan's eastern province of Kunar.

The book's publication comes hard on the heels of a French newspaper report on Saturday that Laden was believed to have died of typhoid in Pakistan in August.

Several governments, including Pakistan's, have poured cold water on the newspaper's report.

Musharraf's memoir, written well before the latest flurry of excitement, stuck to a commonly held belief that Osama was moving back and forth across the Afghan-Pakistan border.

"The fact that so many Saudis are in the Kunar area perhaps suggests that this is where Osama bin Laden has his hideout, but we cannot be sure," Musharraf wrote in In the Line of Fire, which went on sale at bookshops in Islamabad hours before its official release in New York.

"I have said, half-jokingly, that I hope he is not caught in Pakistan, by Pakistan's troops," he added, alluding to worries about a probable internal backlash by Islamist admirers of bin Laden if he were arrested in Pakistan.

Musharraf also wrote that he thought Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar was most likely to be close to his original base in southern Afghanistan, where NATO forces are facing fierce resistance from insurgents.

First Published: Sep 25, 2006 22:23 IST