No evidence of anthrax spread at Pentagon, officials say

Pentagon officials said today there was no indication that anthrax spores found in two postal boxes there had migrated to other parts of the military complex, the Associated Press reported.

The Defense Protective Service checked 150 spots in the Pentagon post office, air ducts and air quality and found all negative, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

Meanwhile, postal inspectors are screening the mail passing through selected postal facilities and are following up more than 300 leads received from the "America's Most Wanted" television program. The focus, he said, is tracking down whoever placed anthrax in the mail. Authorities also were preparing to deal with the piles of mail held since the contamination was reported.

At the White House today, President Bush pledged "to keep relentless military pressure" on Osama bin Laden and his Taliban protectors in Afghanistan, saying it was essential to keep terrorists from acquiring nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Bush made the statement after a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac. He added that while he did not know for sure whether bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization have such weapons, bin Laden "announced that this was his intention and I believe we need to take him seriously."

In Afghanistan, opposition Northern Alliance forces claimed the capture of several villages today near the strategic northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, after U.S. warplanes cleared the way with intensive bombing. It was the first significant movement reported on the ground against the Taliban after U.S. jets stepped up bombardment of the Islamic militia's defenses.

Meanwhile, Germany offered up to 3,900 troops today for the war on terrorism, opening the way for what could lead to the nation's widest- ranging military engagement since World War II. But Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder said there were no immediate plans to deploy ground troops.