Hunt Goes On for Bin Laden, Omar

TORA BORA/KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Anti-Taliban forces on Monday paraded some of Osama bin Laden's exhausted and routed al-Qaida fighters, captured in the eastern Afghan mountains of Tora Bora, as the United States raised its flag in the capital, Kabul, for the first time in 12 years.

There was no sign of the main U.S. quarry, the Saudi-born millionaire Osama bin Laden, but fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar was said to be holed up in another mountain range to the south where Pashtun forces were preparing to attack.

U.S. warplanes bombed suspected hideouts in the Tora Bora ridges and canyons of the eastern White Mountains throughout the night, but only one bomb explosion was heard Monday morning.

Frontline commander Haji Zahir said the anti-Taliban mujahedin -- or holy warriors -- had taken all the main al-Qaida positions.

"The mujahedin are still positioned to go after the remaining al-Qaida, but there is no fighting as they have lost their ammunition, their confidence and their food," he said.

Asked about bin Laden's whereabouts, the anti-Taliban commander said, "I am not in a position to say anything about his location."

Zahir paraded 19 prisoners in a dusty village square, all referred to as "Arabs." They shuffled forward and looked shell-shocked after weeks of U.S. bombing.

In the night, three Arabs and eight Afghans loyal to al-Qaida were captured. All were wounded, said Haji Atiqullah, a spokesman for Zahir.

CNN said it had seen five al-Qaida prisoners, of Saudi, Iraqi and Qatari nationality, brought from the mountains who said that, as of two days ago, they believed bin Laden was still in the area.

Haji Gullalai, intelligence chief in the former stronghold of Kandahar, said Mullah Omar had been traced to a south-central mountain redoubt and is believed to be with 500 men, and ethnic Pashtun forces were preparing to attack.

"Mullah Omar has gone to Baghran," said Gullalai. "... At the moment, we are concentrating on stabilizing Kandahar, but after two or three days we will arrange troops to attack the districts in the northwest," he said. "We will take Baghran and then try to surround him."

If caught, Mullah Omar would be hanged, he said.

Haji Zaman, top military commander in the eastern Jalalabad region near Tora Bora, said bin Laden was no longer in the area and the remnants of his al-Qaida forces were all but wiped out.

The destruction of al-Qaida and the Taliban was underscored by the former Taliban finance minister, who said late Sunday the militia's rule had ended and it could accept a new government.

"If a stable Islamic government is established in Afghanistan then we don't intend to launch any action against it," Mullah Agha Jan Mutasim told the Afghan Islamic Press from an unknown location inside Afghanistan.

Hamid Karzai, the head of Afghanistan's interim government that is due to take power Saturday, flew to Rome for talks with former King Zahir Shah, sources said. He was expected to stay for two days.

On Monday, the United States re-established a diplomatic presence in Kabul for the first time since its diplomats fled the city just before the end of Soviet occupation.

On a cold afternoon, two U.S. Marines hoisted the same American flag that was taken down Jan. 30, 1989.