U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan have detained seven men believed to be plotting bomb attacks against coalition forces, as the search for Osama bin Laden continues on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
A U.S. military spokesman, Colonel Roger King said Saturday, that intelligence reports led U.S. forces to the seven. They were arrested Friday in the southwestern province of Helmand, where they are alleged to have been preparing to attack coalition forces with homemade bombs.
The spokesman refused to say whether the seven have links to al-Qaida or its leader -- Osama bin Laden.
A major operation to find the al-Qaida leader is reported to be under way in the rugged mountain borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Since top al-Qaida official Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured one week ago, U-S planes have been dropping leaflets reminding local inhabitants of the 25-million dollar reward for information leading to the capture of Osama bin Laden or his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri.
Officials in Pakistan and the United States have offered conflicting reports about the search for the terrorist leaders. U.S. and Pakistani special forces are reported to be combing a tribal border region in northern Pakistan (in the northwest Frontier Province), while other operations are reportedly taking place in a remote region of southwestern Pakistan, that borders Iran and Afghanistan (Baluchistan).
However, U.S., Pakistani and Afghan officials are dismissing reports that two sons of Osama bin Laden have been captured in southwestern Afghanistan. They say there is no information to substantiate reports that the two may have been wounded during fighting that killed at least seven suspected al-Qaida fighters.