KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Haji Gulalai, the new intelligence chief in Kandahar, said he has informants with satellite telephones in the area where he believes Mullah Mohammed Omar, the supreme leader of the defeated Taliban movement, is hiding, 100 miles northwest of Kandahar in the mountain village of Baghran.
He said he gets hourly information on Omar’s movements, but has no immediate plans to go after him because there’s just too much to do in Kandahar.
He said he had asked the United States — which wants to punish Omar for harboring Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network — to refrain from bombing the area because civilians might be hurt.
At the Pentagon, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Omar apparently was in the Kandahar area, but cautioned it has been some time "since we’ve seen even what sounded like convincing secondhand reports, much less firsthand reports" of his whereabouts.
"To the best of our knowledge, he is probably — probably, meaning greater than 50 percent, but not necessarily much greater — still in the Kandahar area, but he could be even outside of the country," Wolfowitz said.
The area where Omar is believed to have taken refuge is a series of mountain ranges riddled with deep caves. The mountains begin in Khaqrez, in the northwest corner of Kandahar province, run northwest to Baghran in Helmand province, north through Urzgan province and into Bamiyan province in central Afghanistan.
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