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News Briefs

U.S. Will Not Risk Troops In Caves, Military Planners Say

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Pentagon strategists are mapping out a plan to hunt down Osama bin Laden and Taliban leaders in a manner that spares U.S. soldiers the perils of a cave-by-cave search, relying instead on American air power, opposition fighters and bounty hunters.

Military planners said Monday that there is virtually no chance that they will risk exposing U.S. Special Operations forces to underground confrontations that could prove deadly, when new technologies and willing allies can do the job. Instead, military strategists plan to use thermal and gas imaging to find gatherings of cave-dwellers. If all else fails, the anti-Taliban coalition will simply wait until hidden Taliban forces run out of food and emerge from their hide-outs.

“You can rush and take heavy casualties, or you can be patient,” a Pentagon official said, on condition of anonymity. “Why would I do that when we’ve got 50,000 opposition fighters on the ground who are willing to do it?”

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he had “no doubt” that some of the natural caves and man-made bunkers capable of concealing bin Laden and senior al-Qaida and Taliban leaders have already been searched. But he made it clear that Americans were not involved.

International Aid Workers Return To Afghanistan To Speed Relief

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- UNITED NATIONS

The United Nations is trying to speed up emergency relief efforts in Afghanistan, sending hundreds of aid workers back to their vandalized facilities while officials here work to raise billions of dollars to rebuild the ravaged country, officials said Monday.

The United Nations is still working to secure agreement from the major Afghan factions on a precise time, place and agenda for talks on sharing power in a post-Taliban coalition. Officials of Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance agreed Sunday to participate. A well-funded aid program will be crucial to the efforts to build a broad-based new government, U.N. officials said.

Millions of Afghans are facing a winter without power, potable water or staple foods, U.N. aid agencies report. Hospitals and many other essential services are dependent on professionals from international aid organizations who were pulled out after the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States.

The World Heath Organization, UNICEF, the U.N. Development Program and other U.N. agencies are now beginning to return, U.N. officials said. “We think it is time to get going, to get our people into the country,” said Mark Malloch Brown, the administrator of the U.N. Development Program.