Prime suspect goes missing

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OSAMA BIN Laden, held responsible for the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam last year that claimed more than 250 lives, is still missing.

Two days ago, the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan who have been sheltering Mr bin Laden said he had "disappeared".

Yesterday Mullah Mohammed Omar, spiritual leader of the hardline Islamic militia and a friend of the Saudi millionaire, said: "I cannot definitely say whether Sheikh Osama is in Afghanistan or whether he has left the country. I do not know where he is."

Pakistani intelligence officers said Mr bin Laden had been seen in the western Afghan city of Herat, heading for Iraq via Iran. Other sources claim Mr bin Laden's "disappearance" has been engineered by the Taliban to avert the threat of further American military action.

A Western diplomat in Pakistan said: "If they [the Taliban] say they don't know where Bin Laden is then the Americans can hardly smack them with a load of missiles."