Battle for Afghan stronghold
Afghanistan's anti-Taleban opposition say they have launched a new offensive on the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, as US warplanes continue to pound front lines north of the capital, Kabul.
Northern Alliance warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum said his forces were locked in fierce battles with the Taleban near Mazar - which was once his stronghold and which he is eager to recapture. Another key alliance commander, Mohammed Atta, said his men had launched a joint ground and air attack overnight on Keshendeh, 70 kilometres (40 miles) south of Mazar.
After a day-long respite for Kabul itself, American bombing resumed on Tuesday, with residents reporting three loud explosions after midnight and a further two bombs dropped at dawn. Taleban anti-aircraft guns opened fire mid-morning as warplanes passed overhead again, possibly heading for further bomb runs at the front lines. The last time Kabul was hit, the Taleban artillery was silent, leading to speculation over damage to their air defences in the bombing.
In other developments:
* The US denies a Taleban claim that its missiles hit a hospital in western Afghanistan, killing more than 100 people
* The United Nations calls on Pakistan to open its border to refugees from Afghanistan as hundreds try to fight their way past the Chaman frontier checkpoint
* A Pentagon spokeswoman says no US aircraft have been downed, after the Taleban claim to have shot down a US helicopter
* The Taleban deny that the 10-year-old son of their leader Mullah Omar has died after being injured in one of the first nights of US bombing
Click here to see a map of the latest strikes
The Taleban fired two rockets at Charikar, the NA-held town nearest to the Kabul front line, both of which fell into crowded streets in the city centre killing several people - the first such attack in several weeks.
A BBC cameraman saw the second rocket hit a market stall throwing an old man into the air with the force of the blast. Five people are reported to have died when US jets bombed a convoy of fuel tanker trucks bringing fuel to the southern city of Kandahar.
The Taleban Information Ministry also said a US bomb fell on a mosque in the western city of Herat, killing people praying inside. This follows US denials on Monday that American bombs had hit a hospital in the same city killing about 100 people.
The American Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has said the US attacks on Taleban front lines in support of the opposition are a "logical progression" of the American-led military campaign.
Speaking on Monday at a Pentagon news conference, Mr Rumsfeld confirmed that US warplanes had begun bombing Taleban troops north of Kabul and near Mazar-e-Sharif on Sunday. "Our efforts from the air clearly are to assist those forces on the ground in being able to occupy more ground," he said.
On Monday, Mr Rumsfeld also said the US was working with both the Northern Alliance and tribes in southern Afghanistan to strengthen opposition to the Taleban.
The US has urged the Northern Alliance to occupy more ground before the onset of winter.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said last week that Washington wants the Northern Alliance to take Mazar-e-Sharif, whose large airport could be used as a base for operations by US forces. But he added that the US was still continuing discussions about whether a rebel march into Kabul would be "the best thing".
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