Red Cross Visits Taliban Prisoners at Kandahar Base
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Red Cross officials checked the medical conditions of suspected Taliban and al-Qaida fighters Friday, who are being held by U.S. Marines at a makeshift detention camp at Kandahar airport.
Twenty-five more prisoners were turned over to the Marines, bringing the total number held at the camp to 62, a spokesman said Friday. Eight more prisoners, including American John Walker Lindh, are being held on the Navy's amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu in the Arabian Sea.
The prisoners were from among the thousands captured by Afghan fighters at they took control of the country from the radical Islamic Taliban.
Seven members of the International Committee of the Red Cross went to the camp to check the detainees' medical conditions.
"They visited the command and several persons, and are satisfied with our procedures," Marine Maj. Chris Hughes said. "With every group (of prisoners) we bring in, there are injured — broken bones, dehydration or malnutrition. And they receive medical treatment throughout."
The latest prisoners arrived Thursday and Friday, Hughes said. "Everyone we've received here is suspected Taliban or al-Qaida," he said.
The detainees, military officials said, are bound, blindfolded and separated from each other by concertina wire. American officials plan to transfer them to the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba.
In other developments:
— Pakistan told Washington on Friday that it may not be able to provide crucial logistical support to U.S. and British troops in Afghanistan because it may have to deal with a possible conflict with India, Pakistani officials said on condition of anonymity.
— Pakistan has also informed the United Nations it will be pulling its 4,000 soldiers from the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone, the sources said.
— Afghanistan's interim defense minister said Friday that bin Laden has fled into Pakistan, contradicting the prime minister, who has said the Afghan government doesn't know where he is.
In Kandahar city, food aid returned on Friday for the first time in weeks. Islamic Relief of Great Britain distributed a two-month supply of rice, beans, flour, cooking oil and sugar to about 1,000 families. The relief agency plans to help 17,000 families in Kandahar, the Taliban's former spiritual home, over the next two to three months.
In the mountains of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida fighters made their last stand in eastern Afghanistan, about 500 Afghan fighters, aided by U.S. Special Forces, continued to search cliffside caves for top al-Qaida officials.
A forest fire still raged from American airstrikes and smoke continued to pour from some bombed-out caves. U.S. soldiers, stationed about 10 miles away in an abandoned school, patrol the area by helicopter and on all-terrain vehicles.