Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS

CNN TV
EDITIONS





CNN NEWSROOM

CNN Newsroom

Aired December 17, 2001 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM for Monday. I'm Michael McManus.

SUSAN FREIDMAN, CO-HOST: And I'm Susan Freidman.

Eastern Alliance forces claim victory over the al Qaeda in Tora Bora. Tribal fighters say they now command all the caves in the mountainous region. And two anti-Taliban commanders say they believe the al Qaeda fighters and possibly Osama bin Laden are heading over the mountains toward Pakistan. U.S. officials have not confirmed those reports, and say regardless of progress, the war on terrorism is far from over.

MCMANUS: Meanwhile, in southern Afghanistan, three U.S. Marines were injured Sunday during a land mine clearing operation.

Mike Chinoy is at the Kandahar airport where the incident occurred, and we'll hear more from him in a minute.

First, here's CNN's Nic Robertson with more from the front lines in Tora Bora.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Returning from mountaintop battles with al Qaeda forces near Tora Bora, leading mujahideen commander Hazrat Ali declared the war against Osama bin Laden's last stronghold over.

HAZRAT ALI, EASTERN ALLIANCE COMMANDER (through translator): Our victories today have been very decisive, very important. All the tunnels, all the caves of al Qaeda up on the mountain of Tora Bora have been captured by our forces. We have captured -- we have seized their ammunition. So, for us it's a big victory.

ROBERTSON: Eighty al Qaeda dead, 21 Arabs and nine Afghans captured. But no sign of Osama bin Laden, he says.

ALI (through translator): I don't have any specific information about where being of Osama bin Laden. But I can tell you that right now we don't know any exact whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. ROBERTSON (on camera): The details are scant, and as yet unconfirmed. It had been thought there were up to 1,000 al Qaeda fighters in the mountains. So far only 100 have been accounted for.

Commanders say many may have tried to escape south across the border into Pakistan. And even now U.S. warplanes can be heard circling in the night sky, followed by occasional bomb blasts.

(voice-over): Intense bombing in the last few weeks forced the al Qaeda fighters into an ever-smaller area. However, military analysts believe that checking the hidden network of caves for Osama bin Laden could take a long time, and suggest it may be too soon to have conclusive information about the fate of al Qaeda and its leader.

Nic Robertson, CNN, near Tora Bora, Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Armored vehicles race to assist the Marines' first casualties since they captured Kandahar Airport. Three soldiers injured, one seriously, in a land mine explosion just beyond the runway.

The three were heading to clear a house. They were walking through a field they thought was free of mines when the blast went off. The wounded were put aboard a helicopter and MediVacced to a field hospital at Camp Rhino, south of Kandahar. The incident highlighting the dangers the Marines face here.

No one knows for sure, but there are believed to be thousands of mines scattered in this area.

(on camera): The area around the airport was first mined at the time of the Soviet invasion in the 1980s. It was mined again during the Afghan civil war in the early '90s, and again by the Taliban.

As one Marine de-mining expert said: "We could dig here for an entire year and still find mines."

(voice-over): And not only mines.

UNIDENTIFIED MARINE: They found inside the buildings and around the actual airport. We've actually found land mines, ammunition, machine guns, artillery pieces, surface-to-air missiles, air-to-air missiles. Any sort of ordinance you can imagine on a battlefield, we have found it here.

CHINOY: These machine guns, mortars and rockets are just a fraction of what Taliban and al Qaeda fighters left behind when they fled the airport.

Sergeant Michael Lareeny (ph) and Sergeant Michael Gattis (ph) are Marine explosive disposal experts. They found this cache next to the airport's medical clinic. SGT. MICHAEL GATTIS, U.S. MARINE EXPLOSIVE DISPOSAL EXPERT: I'm not going to assume or specify what they were planning on doing with it, but they were storing munitions in the hospital.

CHINOY (on camera): Do you know where, exactly, in the hospital? Was it...

GATTIS: On this area back here where they have all the medical supplies stored, and that's where we found these munitions.

CHINOY (voice-over): Even though the Marines are flying in and out of here, until the bulk of the ordinance and mines are identified and made safe, it will be hard for Kandahar airport to become fully operational. The chopper evacuating the Marines injured in this incident underscoring just how perilous that task will be.

Mike Chinoy, with the U.S. Marines at Kandahar Airport.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(INTERRUPTED BY LIVE EVENT>

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top