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Rebels Bomb Afghan Capital; 35 Die, 140 Hurt

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Rebel jets bombed the Afghan capital Sunday, killing 35 people and wounding 140 others, a government spokesman and witnesses said. At least 20 of the injured were children.

The air raids, among the worst to hit Kabul in three years of civil war, destroyed several houses and other buildings in the city’s western suburb of Wazir Akbar Khan.

The government blamed the Islamic Taliban militia and accused Pakistan of aiding them.

“There is evidence that the Pakistan air force provided support for the Taliban’s Russian-built planes,” a Defense Ministry statement said.

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President Burhanuddin Rabbani has repeatedly accused Pakistan of arming and fighting alongside Taliban guerrillas, who have captured more than a third of Afghanistan since joining the fighting late last year. Pakistan denies the charge.

The rebels, many of whom are former religious students, want to impose strict Islamic rule throughout Afghanistan.

Kabul government officials said Taliban pilots dropped a series of antipersonnel bombs, which fall by parachute and explode above the ground and scatter shrapnel. The weapon is considered highly effective but indiscriminately brutal.

“Not only the Afghan state but any human around the globe will condemn this brutal attack,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Abdullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name.

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Two regular bombs also rocked the city during the four separate air strikes, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry said.

The Taliban has a number of jet fighters, but it is unclear how they were obtained or where the rebel pilots were trained.

Witnesses said the bombing was devastating.

“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.”

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Most 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.

A group of distraught office workers, one bleeding from a gash across his forehead, stood looking at a pile of rubble that earlier in the day was the building they worked in.

Afghanistan has been wracked by years of bitter factional fighting, which has left much of the 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.


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