US Planes Pound Afghanistan for Fourth Day in a Row, Six Reported Killed
US planes pounded Kabul and the southern Taliban stronghold of Kandahar on Wednesday night, in the heaviest air raids on targets in Afghanistan since attacks began on Sunday, witnesses told AFP.
Reports said that six civilians died in an attack on Jalalabad, raising the number of civilian casualties to 76, accoding to Taliban tally.
The assault began at 8:15pm (1545 GMT) when fighter planes roared over the capital in four separate waves.
Witnesses told the agency that they counted at least 18 large explosions, some near the center of the city as well as to the north and near the airport.
"The bombing is extremely heavy," an AFP reporter in the city said. "Some of these bombs are falling very close and shaking the buildings."
Taliban gunners kept up a steady barrage of anti-aircraft fire, but the volume of flak was slightly reduced, suggesting that some batteries had been taken out in previous raids.
After a brief lull, the planes returned in the early hours of Thursday morning with residents reporting at least five loud explosions inside the city.
"That was followed by other blasts, but they were much further away," one witness said.
Electricity supplies were cut shortly before the first wave of planes streaked over Kabul, plunging the city into darkness.
The southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban’s spiritual heartland, also came under heavy attack.
"It's really scary. I've heard four or five very loud bombs and they seem very close. Everything is shaking but I have nowhere to hide," said a man living some 30 kilometers (19 miles) outside the city center.
Kandahar had also been targeted in a series of raids on Wednesday morning.
Taliban officials said the first three days of bombing had left at least 76 civilians dead and denied a claim from Washington that the US and British forces had established air supremacy over the country.
The Islamic militia said its air defenses remained intact, a claim that appeared to be borne out, at least in part, by the fact that US fighter jets continued to carry out their raids from very high altitudes.
The Afghan opposition, meanwhile, said it had no plans to capture Kabul on the back of US-led air strikes and wanted the city to be permanently demilitarized.
"We have decided firmly that we don't want to take Kabul," Northern Alliance spokesman Daoud Mir said in Washington.
The assertion contrasts sharply with previous statements by some alliance members, who said they hoped to move into Kabul under cover of US air power.
US and British forces and their allies are seeking to destroy the Al Qaeda network of bin Laden, the Saudi-born Islamic militant wanted by the United States for the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington which left more than 5,700 people dead.
Bin Laden has been living in Afghanistan under Taliban protection since 1996 – Albawaba.com
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