Afghanistan's ruling Taleban has lunched a fresh offensive against rival forces in the north as uncertainty persists over the fate of Kabul's main military opponent, Ahmad Shah Masood following an attempt on his life Sunday.
An Afghan news agency, the Afghan Islamic Press, says Taleban troops have advanced four kilometers in a ground and air attack on the so-called Old Road, some 25 kilometers north of Kabul. It says the fighting has also broken out in parts of northeastern Kapisa province. Taleban fighters are reported to have captured six opposition posts in a push towards, Mahmood Raqi, the provincial capital.
Kabul residents could hear explosions of artillery shells and the roar of Taleban jet fighters making regular runs north of the city on Tuesday.
Officials of the opposition Northern Alliance have confirmed the fighting but they deny their forces have lost ground to the Taleban.
Meanwhile, members of the anti-Taleban alliance say their leader, Ahmad Shah Masood, has survived an assassination attempt Sunday. The attack took place at Mr. Masood's headquarters in the Afghan province, Takhar. Reports say two Arab suicide bombers posing as television journalists said to have carried out the blast. Wali Ahmad Masood, is the opposition's ambassador to Britain and the brother of the injured Afghan guerrilla leader. He tells VOA that Commander Masood is recovering from his injuries. "Since [Monday] night we got better news," he said. "We got the good news that he survived the whole blast. He is in a stable situation at the moment. By passing of every hour he is getting better and better. We can confirm this 100 percent that he is absolutely fine at this moment."
Mr. Masood says that for security reasons he cannot disclose, where his brother is being given medical treatment.
He accuses neighboring Pakistan, a strong supporter of the ruling Taleban, of taking part on the plot to kill his brother. The planning and everything has been done by the Pakistani military and is carried out by the people of Osama bin Laden and, of course, with the help and assistance of Taleban. So this triangle is solely responsible for this conspiracy and terrorist action.
The Taleban, who forced Mr. Masood from Kabul in 1996, deny its involvement in the attack on Mr. Masood. The Pakistani government responded by issuing a statement Tuesday condemning the attack.
Mr. Massod is the only opposition commander the Taleban has failed to crush in its drive for control of Afghanistan. The hardline-Islamic Taleban currently rules all but a northern five percent of the war-shattered country.