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- Friday, April 08, 2011 - From Print Edition


KABUL: The Nato-led force in Afghanistan on Thursday denied a report that al-Qaeda was staging a comeback in Afghanistan, saying the militants remained under pressure in the country’s east.


Al-Qaeda’s “actions do not equate to a return in force, and it is thus a stretch to equate it to a large comeback,” Lieutenant Colonel John Dorrian, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), said in a statement.


The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Arab fighters for al-Qaeda had moved back into eastern provinces along the Pakistani border to take advantage of a gradual withdrawal of US forces from the area.


An air strike by US fighter jets in September against an al-Qaeda training camp in the east illustrated the extremist network’s resurgence, wrote the Journal, citing unnamed US, Afghan and Taliban sources.


“It is an overstatement to say that al-Qaeda has taken hold in Afghanistan,” Dorrian said. “Certainly, as they have in the past, al-Qaeda continues to look for options to set up camps in which to train and base. The coalition forces over the past six months had killed al-Qaeda’s number-three leader in Afghanistan and killed or captured other key figures in the east, he added.