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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Saudi Arabia Severs Ties With Taliban

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Osama bin Laden's organization made a fresh call to arms Tuesday as Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic links with the Taliban, leaving Pakistan the sole country with formal ties to Afghanistan's hard-line leaders.

Bin Laden's Al-Qaida organization issued a fiery new statement Tuesday warning Washington against attacks against him or Afghanistan.

"Wherever there are Americans and Jews, they will be targeted," said a statement faxed to news organizations in Islamabad in the name of Al-Qaida's chief military commander, Naseer Ahmed Mujahed. "We can defend ourselves. The holy warriors are fully prepared."

In northern Afghanistan, where an opposition alliance is battling Taliban troops, an opposition spokesman reported intense fighting Tuesday. Reached by telephone from Kabul, spokesman Mohammed Ashraf Nadeem claimed the opposition had captured several villages in the Sangcharak district, killed six Taliban soldiers and captured weapons including artillery, tanks, mortars and rocket launchers. Several alliance soldiers were wounded, he said.

No Taliban official was immediately available to comment on the claims.

Outside assistance to the Afghan opposition is already causing unease in some quarters. Pakistan's foreign minister, Abdul Sattar, called it a "recipe for great suffering" for the Afghan people. He did not specifically mention either Russia, which said Monday it was ready to provide the opposition alliance with weapons, or the United States, which has increased its contacts with the opposition in recent days.

Saudi Arabia, severing its diplomatic links with Afghanistan, accused the Taliban of providing a haven to terrorists who carry out attacks that "defame Islam and defame Moslems' reputation in the world."

Without naming bin Laden, the Saudi government said in a statement carried by the official news agency that the Taliban are using their land to "harbor, arm and encourage those criminals who carry out terrorist attacks that frighten the innocent and spread horror and destruction in the world."

Meanwhile, intelligence officials said a U.S. Defense Department delegation was sharing evidence with Pakistani authorities implicating bin Laden in the terror attacks on New York and Washington. The officials said the delegation, led by Air Force Brigadier General Kevin Chilton, Pentagon director of strategic planning for the Near East and South Asia, was also outlining plans to use Pakistani airspace and military facilities and to exchange intelligence in support of a possible attack on Afghanistan.

A European Union delegation held talks Tuesday in Islamabad, pledging to look for ways to support Pakistan and saying it wanted to send the message that the fight against terror is not a fight against Islam. The group, which was beginning a weeklong tour of half a dozen Islamic countries, intended to speak with Pakistani officials about the growing humanitarian crisis inside Afghanistan.

The UN World Food Program said Tuesday it was resuming food aid in northern and western Afghanistan for the first time since Sept. 11. The Rome-based agency said it would start trucking food in from UN warehouses in Turkmenistan and Tajikistan on a trial basis.