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Afghan Rebels Launch Counterattack

May 11, 1998

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ Opposition forces launched a massive counterattack Sunday against the Taliban religious army, trying to recapture territory recently lost in northern Afghanistan.

The pre-dawn rocket and artillery assault pounded the town of Ishkamish, about 120 miles north of the Afghan capital of Kabul, said Mohammed Arif, a spokesman for opposition leader, Ahmed Shah Massood, a former Afghan defense minister.

Meanwhile, Taliban jets struck opposition targets about 12 miles north of Kabul, injuring three civilians, Arif said.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities, said Arif, whose claims could not be independently confirmed.

The Taliban control 85 percent of Afghanistan, where they have imposed a harsh brand of Islamic rule. The rest of the war-wracked nation is controlled by an alliance of factions representing religious minorities.

Talks between the two sides in neighboring Pakistan collapsed last week.

In recent days, Taliban troops have cut critical supply routes into Massood’s stronghold in the Panjshir valley, but Arif said more supplies and ammunition were being flown in from the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Update hourly