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General confident in bin Laden hunt


KABUL, Afghanistan - America's top general in Afghanistan promised yesterday a renewed focus on the hunt for Osama bin Laden and a new strategy for dealing with a revitalized Taliban insurgency.

Lt. Gen. David Barno, predicting a "critical year" ahead for Afghanistan and the U.S. military effort, also said he was confident that bin Laden and other al-Qaida and Taliban leaders would be caught before 2005.

"Their day has ended, and this year will decisively sound the death knell of their movements in Afghanistan," Barno said.

"Our military operations are taking on a new form. As the enemy has shifted his tactics, we, too, have adjusted," said Barno, who commands the 11,000-strong U.S. force in Afghanistan.

His comments follow reports from Washington that the military is planning a "spring offensive" against al-Qaida hideouts along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border where bin Laden and other al-Qaida and Taliban leaders are thought to be hiding.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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