Kabul Rockets Kill Three, Taleban Advance Reported
11:23 a.m. Oct 13, 1998 Eastern
KABUL (Reuters) - Two rockets hit suburbs of the war-battered Afghan capital Kabul Tuesday, killing at least three civilians as the ruling Taleban militia reportedly made gains against its opponents in the north.
One rocket hit farmland at Qalay-e-Wazir east of Kabul, creating a large, deep crater and killing three members of one family, residents said. Three others were wounded.
``I was collecting corn from the field when it landed and I was deafened for a while by its grim explosion,'' said Sami, a shocked resident.
Earlier another rocket, of a type known as Luna which has an effective range of more than 100 km (60 miles), landed in Kabul's main airport, residents said. There was no report of casualties there.
The airport is used both for military and civilian purposes. Taleban jet fighters have been frequently taking off from there for the past four days for bombing runs to areas held by opposition commander Ahmad Shah Masood north of Kabul.
Some of the forces of Masood, military chief of the ousted government, are based some 25 km (15 miles) from Kabul and have fired rockets in the past on Kabul.
In the northeast of the country Taleban forces made significant advances after heavy overnight fighting, according to an Afghan source in Pakistan with contacts to both sides.
The source, in the northern Pakistani town of Peshawar, said the Taleban advanced a few km (miles) in Ghorband valley in Parwan province after heavy fighting with Masood's forces.
The Taleban forces remain only five km (three miles) from the northern entrance of Salang Pass, a strategic route linking Kabul to the north of the country, and arrested about 40 opposition fighters, said the source, who asked not to be named.
There was no independent confirmation of the report.
The Afghan source said the militia had captured several key posts Tuesday after pushing opposition fighters from hilltops. Its jets were bombing several enemy positions, the source said.
He said the militia was making its way through thousands of landmines left by opposition fighters.
Fighting started Friday and spread on several frontlines after weeks of preparations by both sides to beat winter snow and bad weather.
The militia captured the key Nijrab district in neighboring Kapisa province Sunday night, tightening a noose around Masood's forces, which remain the last obstacle in the Taleban's bid to control all of Afghanistan.
The Taleban takeover of Nijrab, 75 km (45 miles) northeast of Kabul, and its advance Tuesday from there had put strong pressure on Masood's forces that control Badakshan province, parts of Kapisa and Parwan provinces.
Masood's forces are also fighting the Taleban in Takhar province in the north, which borders Tajikistan. Takhar, which was Masood's strategic military stronghold, was captured by the Taleban in August.
Masood, known for his hit-and-run guerrilla tactics, has an overland supply route from Tajikistan through Badakshan to his native Panjsher valley, 120 km (75 miles) northeast of Kabul.
His forces also remain firmly entrenched about 20 km (12 miles) north of Kabul and have frustrated Taleban efforts to expel them. They have repeatedly hit the capital with rockets.
Last month more than 80 people were killed and about 200 wounded when three rockets hit crowded residential areas of Kabul. The opposition denied it fired those rockets on Kabul.
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