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7,000 Taliban, Al-Qaida Being Held

December 21, 2001

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ About 7,000 Taliban and al-Qaida detainees are being held in Afghanistan, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism said Friday.

``The situation changes almost by the hour, but I believe the latest number of prisoners to be around 7,000 in total,″ Kenton Keith, a former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, told a news conference.

The coalition had not previously provided firm numbers, but U.S. officials had talked only about hundreds of detainees.

No details were immediately available on where the detainees were being held, or how many top officials they may include.

As anti-Taliban forces swept through Afghanistan over the past two months, they have taken many prisoners they believe to be members of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network or militants of the former Taliban rulers.

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