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US Airstrikes in Afghanistan Continue - 2001-10-25


U.S. warplanes carried out more strikes Thursday against targets near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. Taleban authorities say the strikes were very heavy and that a bus was hit in the attack. Taleban officials are denying U.S. claims that they may be plotting to poison humanitarian food shipments and blame it on the United States.

A Taleban spokesman quoted by the Afghan Islamic Press says a bus packed with people was hit early Thursday in the U.S. strikes against Kandahar. There is no independent confirmation of the report. Taleban officials also say their front line positions near the city of Bamiyan were bombed and that U.S. planes bombed the western city of Herat late Wednesday killing civilians. U.S. officials say Taleban officials repeatedly exaggerate or even invent incidents involving civilian loss of life.

The Taleban's Education Minister, Mullah Amir Khan Mutaqqi on Thursday strongly denied a U.S. claim that Taleban authorities may be planning to poison food aid. Speaking to the Afghan Islamic Press, the Taleban Education Minister called the reports propaganda saying the Taleban would never consider poisoning their own people.

On Wednesday a Pentagon spokesman said Afghan refugees should be wary of any food coming from Taleban controlled areas, and take food packets from what he called reputable agencies. U.S. forces have dropped more than 700,000 food packets inside Afghanistan since they launched their bombing campaign on October 7.

The Taleban have also asked the Organization of the Islamic Conference to send a delegation to Afghanistan to inspect reports of civilian casualties and damage to non-military targets. In a related development, the Taleban Ambassador to Islamabad, Abdul Salaam Zaeef has traveled to Afghanistan for what are being described as consultations.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, thousands of mourners chanted anti - U.S. slogans at the funeral for Commander Farooq, a top leader of the Pakistan-based Harkat ul-Mujahideen which the U.S. government says is a terrorist organization. Commander Farooq and more than 20 other members of the group were killed in a U.S. air strike inside Afghanistan earlier this week. A spokesman for the group says the bodies of eight members of the group were smuggled back into Pakistan on Wednesday after Pakistani border guards refused to allow them entry.

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