Fifteen Afghans Killed in Bombing, US Commandos Land in Pakistan
Fifteen more Afghans were killed late last night and early Thursday as the US and British bombing of Afghanistan rolled into its fifth day, amid reports of US special forces arriving in Pakistan for expected land operations aimed at “hunting down” suspected terrorists.
US military officials revealed that 5,000-pound "bunker busting" bombs were being used on hardened or buried command centers.
They also hinted at possible commando raids, saying helicopter gunships might be used for selective missions.
Al Jazeera satellite channel said that the commandos had already been deployed in Pakistan.
Reports said that US President George W. Bush would officially inform the Congress of the land operations.
The 15 Afghans were killed when the US bombed and destroyed a mosque and surrounding houses in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan told a press conference Thursday.
"In this mosque, which was demolished by a US attack, 15 people have reported to have been martyred and also four houses have been destroyed," Abdul Salam Zaeef said.
Al Jazeera satellite channel said that ten of the victims belonged to one family, and lost their lives when a missile hit their home.
Earlier, Taliban Education Minister Amir Khan Mutaqqi told AFP the mosque was destroyed in heavy overnight bombing by US forces that targeted Jalalabad, the nation's capital, Kabul, and the regime's southern stronghold of Kandahar.
The minister added that heavy civilian casualties were reported in Jalalabad, the Taliban's southern stronghold of Kandahar and the nation's capital, Kabul.
The Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite TV station earlier reported that ten people died in Afghanistan because of the ongoing US-British raids on the country.
Meanwhile, demonstrations broke out early Thursday in neighboring Pakistan's border town of Peshawar, in which thousands of people chanted anti-US slogans.
Foreign journalists were prevented from reaching the town and from covering the protests, Al Jazeera said.
OPPOSITION ARMY ADVANCES
Parallel to the US-led strikes, Afghan opposition forces won control of the entire central province of Ghor after an overnight battle with their Taliban enemies, AFP quoted an opposition spokesman as saying Thursday.
"We have taken Ghor completely and people are very happy that we have freed them," Mohammad Ashraf Nadeem told AFP by satellite phone from northern Afghanistan.
He said the forces of the opposition Northern Alliance under commander Fazul Karim Aimaq had clinched control of the province after a four-hour battle.
The spokesman said fighting had since moved south to the neighboring province of Uruzgan.
Ghor province is of limited strategic importance, but its capture will be an important morale boost for the opposition forces, who claim that civilians rising up against the Taliban aided their victory.
The opposition, which controls around 10 percent of Afghanistan, have mounted a series of offensives in the last few days in a bid to capitalize on US air strikes against the Taliban's military installations - Albawaba.com
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