Forces Continue Hunt for Al Qaeda

Coalition forces scouring the mountains of southeastern Afghanistan for Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters blew up dozens of rockets, mortar shells and boxes of ammunition discovered in the rocky terrain, a British military spokesman said.

The latest weapons cache was discovered about 2 miles south of four caves in Paktia province that were packed with tens of thousands of ammunition and were destroyed by British military engineers with a massive controlled explosion Friday.

Lt. Col. Ben Curry said the new find included 60 107 mm rockets, 100 82 mm mortar shells and 12 boxes of 12.7 mm heavy machine gun ammunition.

"This cache was destroyed this morning by the bomb disposal team," he told reporters at Bagram, the main base for the U.S.-led coalition.

Another cave complex found by the mostly British force was empty, he said, but a few rocket-propelled grenades and some small-arms ammunition was found in a culvert under the main road linking two cities in the province, Khost and Gardez.

Those munitions were also destroyed with a controlled blast, he said.

The 3-week-old British-led mission, known as Operation Snipe, is part of Operation Mountain Lion, the U.S.-led search for Taliban and Al Qaeda holdouts in eastern Afghanistan. The mission are backed by Afghan forces, U.S. special operations troops and U.S. air support.

Also Sunday, the Afghan national airline Ariana — down to one serviceable plane — resumed regular service to Pakistan after a break of nearly 23 years.

Ariana's lone plane, a Boeing 727, landed at Islamabad airport about an hour late Sunday afternoon, after its departure from Kabul was delayed. Initially, service will be limited to one flight a week.