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Reports differ on bin Laden hunt in Pakistan

U.S. officials said the search for bin Laden has been narrowed to a few Pakistani provinces in the northwest.
U.S. officials said the search for bin Laden has been narrowed to a few Pakistani provinces in the northwest.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Reports conflicted Friday about a search in Pakistan for Osama bin Laden, a day after U.S. intelligence officials said the hunt for the fugitive al Qaeda leader has been narrowed to northern Pakistan.

U.S. sources told CNN that members of the Joint Special Operations Command -- the most covert of U.S. military special operations forces -- are patrolling in the area of the Afghan-Pakistani border.

On Thursday, U.S. officials said the search is concentrating in a few northwestern Pakistani provinces, including Waziristan, and tribal and frontier provinces to the north that border on Afghanistan.

CIA Director George Tenet has described the region as "lawless zones, veritable no man's lands ... where extremist movements find shelter and can win the breathing space to grow."

But on Friday, Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid denied the report. "There is no operation going on, there is no search going on, and we don't know where is Osama," Rashid told CNN. "If somebody knows [his whereabouts] let us know."

A highly placed source with the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Agency also denied that such an operation was under way, saying he thought the U.S. reports may be a pressure tactic.

A Pakistani intelligence source told CNN on Friday that there were a few raids conducted by U.S. and Pakistani authorities in Baluchistan looking for al Qaeda members, but they were routine forays -- not part of a special operation. There were no arrests.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told CNN on Thursday that authorities have "evidence and information" indicating bin Laden is most likely alive.

"All that Pakistan can do, we are doing to the best of our ability," Gen. Musharraf said.

Mohammed: Being questioned in a secret location
Mohammed: Being questioned in a secret location

In the past, Musharraf has said he believed bin Laden was dead, and Pakistani officials have repeatedly said they did not believe the al Qaeda leader was in their country.

Intelligence and law enforcement officials are following up leads from the materials captured Saturday along with al Qaeda operations chief Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. (Life of terror)

A senior U.S. official says Mohammed has begun giving his interrogators "information that is of some use." (Special Report)

Unlike Mohammed, who was captured in a home in an Islamabad suburb, bin Laden is likely in a more remote area, along with a contingent of bodyguards, Musharraf told CNN.

Mohammed was captured, officials say, along with his laptop computer, cellular phones, notebooks and an address book -- materials one U.S. source has called a "treasure trove" of intelligence.

The New York Times quoted Pakistani security officials as saying material seized during the raid that netted Mohammed showed he had met with bin Laden in February, possibly in Rawalpindi, the city near Islamabad where the al Qaeda operations chief was captured.

CNN's Islamabad Bureau Chief Ash-har Quraishi contributed to this report.


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