- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2003

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) U.S. Special Forces, acting on intelligence reports, detained seven men in southern Afghanistan on suspicion of plotting attacks on coalition forces, an American military spokesman said yesterday.
The seven were captured Friday in a raid on a compound in a village in the southwestern province of Helmand, said Col. Roger King, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Col. King said the seven were preparing to attack coalition troops with homemade bombs.
Authorities declined to say whether any of the captured are suspected to be members of al Qaeda or the former Taliban government, which was ousted in a U.S.-led bombing campaign in late 2001.
Last week, U.S. troops in Helmand province concluded a major operation that began after intelligence reports showed that as many as 100 Taliban fighters were active in the area.
A top Pakistani provincial police official said Friday that a U.S.-led raid in southwestern Afghanistan killed seven al Qaeda men and wounded eight others, including two sons of Osama bin Laden. U.S. officials disputed the report.
Sanaullah Zehri, home minister of Baluchistan province and the region's top security official, said the allied raid occurred near Rabat.
Col. King said he could not confirm the report and denied that U.S. and other coalition forces were involved in any operation in Rabat.
Meanwhile, Spain said yesterday that five arrested Friday and suspected of being Islamic extremists are believed to be part of al Qaeda's financial network.
Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes, speaking in the northern city of Santander, also said the five, four Spaniards and one Pakistani, may have been involved in the synagogue bombing on the Tunisian resort island of Djerba in April, which killed 19 persons.
The Interior Ministry said police investigations point to the existence of a money-laundering network of individuals and businesses in Spain that channel profits to Osama bin Laden's terror network.

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