Pakistani Troops Tighten the Noose Around Suspected al-Quaida Leaders

MARCH 19, 2004 - Posted at 7:36 a.m. CDT

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Fierce fighting is reported in two more villages in Pakistan, near the Afghan border, as the hunt continues for Osama bin Laden and other suspected al-Qaida leaders.

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf tells CNN that troops have narrowed in on fighters entrenched in fortress-like buildings.  He calls it "a pitched battle."

An intelligence official reports that some of the suspects who've been captured say that bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, is cornered and was wounded in the fighting.

U.S. and Afhan forces are strenghtening positions on their side of the border.  An Afghan general says they want to make sure "al-Qaida cannot escape."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)