Rebel Air Strikes Pound Kabul; 35 Dead, Scores More Hurt
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ Rebel jets bombed the Afghan capital Sunday, killing 35 people and wounding 140 others, the government and witnesses said. At least 20 of the injured were children.
The air raids destroyed several houses and other buildings in the city’s western suburb, Wazir Akbar Khan. A government spokesman blamed the rebel Islamic Taliban militia.
In four separate air strikes, the government said, Taliban pilots dropped a series of anti-personnel bombs, which fall by parachute and explode above the ground and scatter shrapnel.
Two regular bombs also rocked the city, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry said.
Witnesses described devastation.
``I saw at least seven dead bodies,″ said Mohammed Ashim, a police officer who was standing about 550 yards from the site of one explosion. ``It was the Taliban who did this. They can’t take the city, so they bomb civilians.″
The Taliban, camped out on the southern outskirts of Kabul, have vowed to topple the city by military force. They want to impose strict Islamic rule throughout Afghanistan.
The majority of the bombs landed in heavily populated areas, a government official said.
On a street not far from several direct hits, slabs of concrete, broken glass and twisted metal littered the ground. Distraught workers, one bleeding from a forehead gash, gazed at a pile of rubble that had been their office building.
At one hospital on Kabul’s west side, 54 injured bystanders were taken for treatment.
In fighting outside Kabul, government forces claimed to have captured several areas from the Taliban.
Afghanistan has been wracked by years of bitter factional fighting, which has left much of its capital in ruins. The country’s main Islamic groups fought side by side during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s but turned against each other after driving the communists from power in 1992.
Taliban guerrillas stormed into the fray last year, saying they were disgusted at the infighting. The Taliban _ many of whom are former religious students _ have captured about a third of the country and have surrounded the capital.