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US Bombs Targets in Kabul and Kandahar; Taleban Claims Chemical Weapons Used - 2001-10-23


U.S.-led warplanes have carried out more strikes against suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan and the ruling Taleban's frontlines.

Bombs have also hit areas in other Afghan cities, including the southern Taleban stronghold of Kandahar.

The intense allied bombing struck the Taleban's frontline north of the capital, Kabul, for the third consecutive day. Reports say explosions also shook the Islamic movement's southern stronghold of Kandahar.

In the north, intense fighting erupted between the Taleban and forces of the opposition Northern Alliance around the key city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The clashes followed U.S. air attacks on the Taleban frontlines in the area. Anti-Taleban forces control less than 10 percent of the Afghan territory. Their leaders hope the American bombing will pave the way for their advance.

Taleban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, told reporters Tuesday that more civilians have died in the latest round of air strikes. Speaking through an interpreter, Mr. Zaeef accused the United States of using chemical weapons in the attacks. There is no independent confirmation of his statement.

"In Kandahar province 15 people have been martyred and 25 people wounded by American raids," he says. "The Department of Public Health says that symptoms of chemicals have been noticed on the bodies of those injured in American air raids."

United Nations officials Tuesday confirmed that a U.S. bomb had struck a military hospital in the Western Afghan city of Herat, but gave no information about the causalities. Taleban officials said Monday, as many as 100 people had been killed in the bombing, a figure that could not be independently confirmed.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, protesters have clashed with police after evading tight security in the southern city of Jacobabad where the U.S. military is using an air base to provide logistical support for attacks in Afghanistan. Reports say more than dozen people have been injured some 100 demonstrators arrested.

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