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Troops Destroy Afghan Cave Complex, Seize Weapons

BY Admin  January 15, 2002 at 5:30 PM EDT

Captain Daniel Greenwood told reporters that troops found a building some 300 yards from the air base’s perimeter with weapons and tunnels underneath.

The cache of weapons included rocket-propelled grenades and mortar bombs. Greenwood said U.S. troops blew up the building, ammunition and tunnels.

It was unclear whether the tunnels were affiliated with a specific Afghan group.

The discovery came this morning after seven men who appeared armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers were seen near the area, Greenwood said. The men have not been found.

Greenwood said he believed the weapons and tunnels are linked to a brief spray of small-arms fire during the first transport of prisoners from Kandahar to a U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba last Thursday. No U.S. troops were injured in the attack.

The airport near Kandahar is the site of the main detention center for Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners from the U.S.-led operation in Afghanistan.

Officials say 483 prisoners are in U.S. custody — 433 in Afghanistan, 50 at the Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba. Alleged American Taliban John Walker Lindh remains on the amphibious attack ship USS Bataan in the Arabian sea, the Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, U.S. planes have halted bombing of the larger Zawar Kili cave complex in eastern Afghanistan.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Stufflebeam said a week and a half of U.S. airstrikes have destroyed 60 buildings and sealed entrances to 50 caves. With that work finished, Stufflebeam says, troops will “probably look for another complex.”