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 - Report - Taliban names Anti-U.S. Leadership Council

    Report - Taliban names Anti-U.S. Leadership Council

    ISLAMABAD - The shadowy leader of Afghanistan's former Taliban regime, Mullah Omar, has named a 10-man leadership council to organise resistance against foreign troops in the country, a news report said on Tuesday.

    Pakistani newspaper, The News, quoted a Taliban spokesman saying that Mullah Omar announced the formation of the body in an audio tape sent from his hiding place in Afghanistan.

    The whereabouts of Mullah Omar and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who is blamed for masterminding the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, remain unknown despite more than a year and a half of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan.

    In the tape, Mullah Omar called on the Taliban to make sacrifices to drive out U.S. and other foreign troops and the "puppet" government of U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai, the paper quoted Mohammed Mukhtar Mujahid as saying.

    The paper said members of the "Rahbari Shura", or leadership council, were mostly Taliban military commanders and most were from the southwest of the country.

    The paper said they included former defence minister Mullah Obaidullah and military commanders including the one-legged Mullah Dadullah and Akhtar Mohammad Usmani.

    Officials of the Taliban, driven from power by a U.S.-led coalition in late 2001, could not immediately be reached for comment.

    There are about 11,500 foreign troops under U.S. command hunting Taliban and al Qaeda remnants in Afghanistan.

    On Saturday, U.S. forces launched an air assault in the southeast to prepare for a deployment of troops on the border with Pakistan to stop Taliban and al Qaeda fighters crossing and carrying out attacks.

    Afghan and U.S. officials have blamed a spate of attacks in Afghanistan this year on "terrorists" crossing from Pakistan.

    Afghan officials have said they believe Taliban leaders like Mullah Omar and Usmani have been taking refuge in Pakistan and have called on Islamabad to act against them.

    Source: Reuters

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