Al Qaeda Fighters Defy Onslaught
Byline: SAM GREENHILL
THOUSANDS of soldiers yesterday joined the battle that may lead to the capture of Osama Bin Laden's deputy.
Up to 400 Al Qaeda fanatics offered fierce resistance as Pakistani reinforcements poured into the area where terror godfather Ayman al Zawahri is believed to be hiding.
They pounded heavily-armed fortresses in several villages in the lawless zone on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
There were unconfirmed reports that Zawahri - who masterminded September 11 - may have been injured in the fighting.
Zawahri, a 52-year-old former Egyptian eye surgeon, i s believed to be the brains behind the Al Qaeda terror network, with Bin Laden serving more as spiritual leader and financial backer. Villagers in Wana, the main town, said heavy guns fired throughout Thursday night.
Yesterday, the battle spread to two more villages and helicopter gunships fired rockets at houses.
Families have been fleeing the besieged region in pickup trucks loaded with possessions.
Army spokesman General Shaukat Sultan told a news conference that 300 to 400 militants were holed up in the area. …