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Week Two of Airstrikes Underway in Afghanistan - 2001-10-14


U-S warplanes and missiles are again pounding Taleban and suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan.

Late Sunday, explosions were heard north of the capital, Kabul, where reports say the target was an entrenched Taleban army division facing troops of the opposition Northern Alliance. Other airstrikes have targeted Taleban headquarters in the city of Kandahar.

Earlier Sunday, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said Islamabad has asked Washington not to bomb Taleban forces north of the capital that would block the opposition from marching into Kabul. In an interview with A-B-C television, Mr. Sattar said Pakistan fears a Northern Alliance takeover of Kabul would further destabilizing Afghanistan.

Wednesday, a Northern Alliance spokesman told V-O-A that the opposition group would not try to take Kabul, citing a desire to avoid civilian casualties. The Northern Alliance, meanwhile, says four thousand Taleban fighters have defected as opposition made advances in central Afghanistan's Jozejan province. That report has not been independently confirmed.

Taleban authorities allowed Western journalists into Afghanistan today (Sunday) for the first time since the airstrikes began a week ago. A group of reporters was taken to a village (Karam) outside Jalalabad, where officials and residents said about 200 civilians were killed last week in U-S-led attacks. Journalists reported seeing a number of destroyed homes in the area, and villagers picking through the rubble. The alleged death toll among civilians has not been confirmed.

U-S defense officials did say one guided bomb missed its intended target Saturday -- a military helicopter at the airport near Kabul -- and landed in a residential area. Witnesses say the bomb killed four people and wounded several others. U-S officials could not confirm the casualties, but say any loss of civilian life is regrettable.

The Taleban appealed Sunday to the opposition Northern Alliance to join forces with Taleban troops to resist the U-S-led attacks. The Islamabad-based Afghan Islamic Press quotes the Taleban intelligence chief (Qari Ahmedullah) as saying opposition fighters who defect to the Taleban may keep their weapons.

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