U.S. jets struck positions around the Afghan capital Friday, hitting Taleban positions just to the north of the city. Red Cross officials say some U.S. bombs also hit warehouses housing relief supplies. The strikes took place as Taleban authorities executed a veteran opposition commander caught while trying to raise a rebellion deep inside Taleban territory.
U.S. warplanes pounded frontline Taleban positions near Bagram air base, north of Kabul, but Taleban front lines are reported to be holding despite the heavy bombardment. Opposition Northern Alliance forces control the base, but Taleban fighters have heavily entrenched positions in hills that surround it, making it unusable.
A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said U.S. bombs struck three ICRC warehouses in Kabul, resulting in huge fires that destroyed essential food supplies for the drought-stricken country. This is the second time this month that an ICRC warehouse in Kabul has been mistakenly hit in a U.S. air strike. The ICRC says there are no reports of casualties because few workers were present on Friday, the Muslim holy day.
Earlier, U.S. warplanes hit targets in Afghanistan's eastern Paktia province near the Pakistan border, apparently targeting areas where Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network are believed to have built a tunnel complex.
The Taleban said on Friday they had captured and executed Abdul Haq, a legendary Mujahedin commander who fought Soviet troops 20 years ago. Abdul Haq had recently returned to Pakistan from Dubai to recruit former Pashtun Mujahedin commanders and Taleban commanders unhappy with their leaders, into an anti-Taleban coalition under the banner of former King Zahir Shah.
In a recent interview with VOA, Abdul Haq said he believed that with proper support, Afghans themselves could help end terrorism in their country. "My advice to the Americans is instead of sending your troops and soldiers and engaging in the war, the best thing [for the Afghan people] would be to create their structure and their political systems," he said, "and you will have a united government with a strong armed forces and law enforcement agencies. They will then go bring these people from different mountains and caves and take them to justice."
The Taleban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar had earlier issued a warning that anyone found to be cooperating with efforts to overthrow the Taleban would be executed. In a statement issued on Friday, the Taleban leader criticized western media outlets, saying they were distorting the Taleban message. The Taleban leader also called on supporters around the world to step up their protests in the next few days -- but he did not say what type of protests should take place.