KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) The Taliban”s ambassador to Pakistan said this morning that civilians had been killed in the U.S. and British strikes on Afghanistan.
But the envoy, Abdul Salam Zaeef, would not say how many or where they occurred.
“There were casualties,” he told The Associated Press today. “Civilians died. It was a very huge attack.”
Zaeef said earlier that Osama bin Laden, the main suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks, and Mullah Omar had survived. “By the grace of God, Mullah Omar and bin Laden are alive,” he said yesterday, without saying whether either leader was near the scene of the attacks.
The strike began after nightfall yesterday in Kabul with five blasts followed by the sounds of anti-aircraft fire. Electricity was shut off throughout the city for more than two hours afterward.
The attack also targeted the heart of the Taliban movement, hitting its military headquarters and the home of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in the southern city of Kandahar, according to Afghan sources reached by telephone from Islamabad, Pakistan.
The sources said the first wave struck the Kandahar airport, destroying radar facilities and the control tower. The strike also targeted hundreds of housing units built for members of bin Laden”s al-Qaida terror movement.
The second wave, which appeared to be more precisely targeted, struck the Taliban national headquarters in downtown Kandahar, the sources said. They said smoke was seen billowing from Mullah Omar”s high-walled compound about nine miles outside the city.
The sources spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
In Jalalabad, other sources reached by telephone from Islamabad said three loud explosions could be heard. One seemed to be coming from the area of Farmada, a bin Laden training camp about 12 miles south of the city.
Electricity was restored in Kabul more than two hours after the attack, but later went out again. It was unclear whether the blast had damaged transmission facilities or the Taliban were shutting off electricity to darken the city from attackers. There was no sign of panic among Kabul”s 1 million people, long inured to war after more than two decades of relentless fighting that has destroyed most of the city.
The private, Islamabad-based Afghan Islamic Press agency quoted the Taliban as saying American planes had bombed areas near the Kabul airport in the northern part of the city. The agency said there were no details of casualties and no reports of damage to the city itself. It added, however, that “huge smoke is rising near Kabul airport.”
In a statement carried by Afghan Islamic Press, an unidentified Taliban spokesman in Kandahar said all provincial airports in the country appeared to have been targeted “but we have not suffered any major damage.”
In an interview with a Turkish radio station, Gen. Rashid Dostum, of the coalition of opposition forces fighting the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, said: “Taliban”s planes are burning.”