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[] TOF 14.2.02: US planes rain dollars on Afghanistan,

FRIDAY, FEBRUUS planes rain dollars on Afghanistan 

REUTERS [ THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2002  2:43:55 PM ]

HAMAN, Pakistan: US aircraft over southern Afghanistan have scattered $100 bills tucked into envelopes bearing a picture of President George W. Bush, witnesses said on Thursday. 

Some of the envelopes were carried by the wind and fluttered to earth over the Pakistan border town of Chaman, sending people scrambling for the cash.

"C-130 planes dropped white-coloured paper envelopes with a photo of President Bush and two bills of $100 each," said Abdul Hadi, a resident of Chaman on the border with southern Afghanistan.

"They are actually dropping these over areas across the border but a few were carried away by the wind to this side," Hadi said. "People pushed and fought with each other to get their hands on the envelopes."

The envelopes bore no message, the witnesses said.

The US aircraft first dropped the envelopes on Wednesday afternoon and made a second run to drop their paper payloads on Thursday morning.

Southern Afghanistan used to be a stronghold of the vanquished Taliban government.

The money was the latest message from the sky sent by US forces hunting fugitive Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden and his main Taliban protector, the group's leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

In recent weeks US aircraft have dropped leaflets over the same area depicting Mullah Omar as a dog, held on a leash by bin Laden.

Another crude cartoon dropped by US forces showed Taliban leaders as pawns in the hands of bin Laden, playing on a chequered chessboard map of Afghanistan.

Some of the earlier leaflets carried messages in the Pashto and Dari languages such as, "Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda are terrorists, they should not be given shelter, those providing shelter to them will meet a horrible end."

The whereabouts of both bin Laden, leader of the shadowy al Qaeda militant network and prime suspect in the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, and Mullah Omar are a mystery.

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