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US Planes Bomb Taleban Positions Near Kabul - 2001-11-05

U.S. bombers have attacked Taleban troops near the Afghan capital, Kabul, and have continued their assault on frontline positions in northern Afghanistan. The air campaign has entered its fifth-week with Taleban officials saying the strikes have not hampered their ability to govern.

Witnesses say B-52 bombers struck at Taleban positions around Taloqan, near the border with Tajikistan.

Several of the bombers hit a base north of Kabul. Reports say U.S. aircraft also fired rockets near the capital; witnesses reported hearing helicopters before the attack.

In neighboring Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf's government has pledged continued cooperation in the campaign, despite pressure from Muslim groups.

Donald Rumsfeld met Sunday with President Musharraf and other top officials. Pakistan's main spokesman, General Rashid Qureshi, says they had broad agreement over the campaign's progress, but he says the discussions were limited. "Broadly, the operations were discussed," he said. "But operational and tactical plans, when we talk about tactical plans they are the nitty gritty of what is going to happen when and where, those areas have not been shared. But there is an overall understanding of what is happening."

While in Islamabad, Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters the campaign was taking a toll on the Taleban, saying the group is no longer able to function as a government.

But Taleban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, told VOA that the Taleban control remains strong. "The Taleban are not a party, this is a nation of Afghans and they will not be able to finish this nation," he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. strikes also continued on Taleban frontlines near the key northern city Mazar-e-Sharif. Witnesses report heavy fighting in the area between Taleban and opposition forces.

But a new Northern Alliance offensive launched Sunday is reported to have bogged down, despite the increased U.S. bombing in the area.