- Title: AFGHANISTAN: U.S. Bombings continue into second month
- Date: 10th November 2001
- Summary: (W5) RABAT, AFGHANISTAN (NORTHERN ALLIANCE-HELD TERRITORY) (NOVEMBER 8, 2001) (REUTERS) U.S. BOMBER FLYING OVERHEAD IN CLEAR BLUE SKY; HUGE FLASH OF EXPLOSION AS TWO BOMBS FALL IN DISTANCE, PLUMES OF SMOKE RISING; NORTHERN ALLIANCE FIGHTER WATCHING THROUGH BINOCULARS; AV U.S. AIRCRAFT FLYING HIGH; FLASH OF EXPLOSION, SMOKE RISING, BIRDS FLYING OFF SLV NORTHERN ALLIANCE FIGHTERS WATCHING EXPLOSIONS FROM ROOFTOP AV CLEAR VIEW OF U.S. BOMBER FLYING OVERHEAD; GV U.S. BOMBS EXPLODING IN DISTANCE; PLUMES OF SMOKE RISING FROM STRIKES AT FOOT OF MOUNTAINS; AV U.S. JET FLYING AT ANGLE; GV HUGE BLACK PLUME OF SMOKE RISING (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) NORTHERN ALLIANCE DISTRICT COMMANDER BASER SAYING "It was the most intense bombing I have seen on the frontline in the last two weeks. Various Taliban frontline targets were taken out." HUGE PLUME OF SMOKE RISING FROM BOMBING
- Embargoed: 25th November 2001 12:00
- Location: KANDAHAR, RABAT AND KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
- Country: Afghanistan
- Topics: Conflict
- Reuters ID: LVA6FKUG3G2591PCWAQBL2VI02SV
- Story Text: The United States has continued bombing Afghanistan into a second month as part of its "war on terrorism" designed to force the ruling Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden, chief suspect in the September 11 attacks.
U.S. bombs hit the outskirts of the southern city of Kandahar and continued to pound Taliban positions on the northern frontline, 35 kilometres from Kabul.
Abu Dhabi television has broadcast pictures of two people lying wounded in a Kabul hospital after the truck on which they were fleeing from Mazar-i-Sharif - a city on a vital route currently controlled by the Taliban - was bombed by U.S.
forces. The report said 43 villagers were killed in the attack, but there was no independent confirmation.
Huge plumes of dust and smoke rose from the falling bombs on Thursday (November 8), a short distance outside Kandahar, the southern city which is the spiritual home of the Taliban. Return machine-gun fire could be heard after one explosion.
In pictures shot by Abu Dhabi Television, a jet could be heard flying overheard, followed by another explosion, which sent another huge plume of smoke and dust into the air.
CNN reported that the Taliban's stronghold in the southern city of Kandahar was the target of a fierce all-night bombardment that focused on what were believed to be Taliban positions to the west of the city famed for its grapes and pomegranates.
The U.S. jets continued bombing Taliban positions north of the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Thursday, striking trenches and artillery and the militia opened fire, forcing opposition soldiers basking in the late autumn sun to duck as bullets whizzed by.
The thunderous crack of explosions sent plumes of black smoke into the air as Northern Alliance fighters languished on blankets on the roof of their brick-walled frontline base while high-flying U.S. jets streaked through the clear blue sky.
Northern Alliance Commander Mustafah said the bombing raid began at about 4:00 am (2330 GMT). The bombardment continued intermittently through the morning and into the afternoon.
U.S. warplanes, including B-52 heavy bombers, first struck the Taliban back lines at Karabakh on the wide Shomali plain, targeting ammunition stores, tanks and artillery guns before swooping back and hitting frontline trenches.
No anti-aircraft fire was heard from frontline positions, although the Taliban fired a few rounds from their Kalashnikov assault rifles and then opened up with machine guns on the Northern Alliance frontline positions, forcing soldiers to fall to the floor as bullets whizzed by.
Later in the day U.S. B52 bombers and F18 jets continue to pound the Taliban frontlines of Estargheca and Galanasro.
Bursts of fire could be seen as bombs landed, sending up vast plumes of smoke. One local opposition commander said a Taliban tank was hit.
Northern Alliance District Commander Baser said "It was the most intense bombing I have seen on the frontline in the last two weeks. Various Taliban frontline targets were taken out."
Abu Dhabi TV later broadcast on Thursday (November 8) pictures from a Kabul hospital, which showed two injured civilians in a Kabul hospital, apparently wounded by U.S.
bombing near Mazar-i-Sharif.
The two wounded were aboard a truck full of villagers en route to Kabul from Mazar-i-Sharif fleeing the bombing, when U.S. aircraft bombed the vehicle, the report said.
The bombing killed 43 people and injured an undisclosed number of others. Some of the injured died on the way to hospital in Kabul, Abu Dhabi said.
The pictures showed a man and his son whose bones were crushed in the attack. The report said the hosiptal had very poor facilities.
There was no independent verification of the report.
Afghan opposition commanders have been planning an offensive to capture the strategic northern city from the ruling Taliban. The Northern Alliance has reported advances in the area with the aim of capturing the Balkh provincial capital that could provide it a vital supply route.
The opposition said it used 2,000 horses in advances this week on Taliban positions near Mazar-i-Sharif. The cavalry charges, an ancient form of warfare, were directed against 20th century weaponry. A new offensive would involve tanks and artillery against Taliban fighters, who have been entrenched around the city since they took it in 1998.
The capture of the city would be a major prize for the Northern Alliance because Mazar-i-Sharif straddles crucial supply routes between Uzbekistan and Kabul and also commands the most important airfield in the north of the country.
The opposition said it hoped it would be able to take the city without bloodshed, and was urging the Taliban to withdraw.
Opposition soldiers say at least 3,000 Taliban soldiers are deployed on the frontline with more reinforcements of foreign volunteers, fighters from Arab countries, Chechnya and Pakistan who make up Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, arriving daily.
The Northern Alliance appears in no hurry to make its much-heralded push on Kabul, just 20 km (15 miles) to the south, despite nearly three weeks of U.S. bombardments on the frontline in a war now in its 33rd day.
The United States is waging what it calls a "war on terrorism" centering on the Taliban, which is sheltering bin Laden, suspected of masterminding the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
Its ally the Northern Alliance, with an estimated 15,000-20,000 fighters, appears poorly equipped and scattered over 1,000 km of frontline with the Taliban.
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