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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The voice on a new audiotape sounds like Osama bin Laden, a U.S. official said Tuesday as the Bush administration tried to authenticate what would be the first hard evidence in a year that the al-Qaida leader was still alive.

``Something of this import, we want to be as sure as we can be,'' said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. ``It does sound like bin Laden's voice. We have to complete the technical analysis,'' the official said.