Heavy bombing has resumed in Afghanistan following a nighttime raid by U.S. special forces on a Taleban target in the south of the country. Meanwhile, Pakistan's foreign ministry says a key Taleban minister visited Pakistan in recent days.
During a briefing Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammed Khan confirmed the visit of Mullah Jalaluddin Haqqani, a Taleban minister and military commander. "He has been here for a few days," said the spokesman. "He has met a number of Afghans, and he has met Pakistani officials as well."
He said the officials looked at the prospect of how a broad-based government could be set up in Afghanistan. It is not clear if Mullah Haqqani had the approval of other Taleban leaders.
U.N. officials say thousands of Afghan refugees are fleeing the U.S. bombing in a worsening law and order situation in Afghanistan. They said 5,000 people have been allowed to cross into Pakistan, while thousands more who lacked the proper documents have been stranded at the border.
U.N. refugee agency spokesman Peter Kessler said refugees are describing an increasingly dire situation. "People crossing at the border described Kandahar as empty and reported that fuel was no longer was available," he said. "People claimed that some of their family members had been killed in the air strikes, and people also said they were starving."
U.N. officials also cited numerous cases of looting at agency offices, and called on their Afghan coworkers to put their own safety ahead of protecting UN supplies and property. Earlier Saturday, more than 100 elite U.S. troops raided a Taleban target in southern Afghanistan. Pentagon officials say all helicopters involved in ferrying the troops for the nighttime raid returned safely to base. They gave no word of casualties.
But two U.S. soldiers were killed in Pakistan when their helicopter, on standby for search and rescue support, went down in what officials say was a landing accident.
Taleban officials quickly said their forces had a hand in downing the helicopter, but U.S. officials say it never left Pakistani airspace. A Taleban embassy spokesman in Islamabad also said Taleban soldiers repelled the U.S. raid.