Taliban front lines hit; missile goes awry

Sunday, October 28, 2001

JOM QADAM, Afghanistan -- In what witnesses called the heaviest such strikes of the air campaign, U.S. warplanes staged a daylong assault Saturday on Taliban front lines in the north of Afghanistan.

However, Britain's Sky News television reported one of the U.S. missiles went awry and struck a village behind anti-Taliban opposition lines. A family of 10 was missing and 20 people, all but one civilians, were injured, Sky News reported.

Kate Rowlands, program coordinator of the Italian-run Emergency hospital in nearby Anawa, confirmed that there had been injuries in the attack but refused to give details.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesmen said they had no information on the Sky News report.

Rebels confronting Taliban troops north of the capital, Kabul, have been complaining publicly that the American airstrikes weren't doing enough to advance their cause. It wasn't known if Saturday's raids were in response to that, but an opposition spokesman said he was pleased with the day's raids.

With three weeks of bombing having failed to break the Taliban's hold on Afghanistan, the president of neighboring Pakistan -- a key U.S. ally in the confrontation over Osama bin Laden -- said he hoped the war wouldn't become a "quagmire" and that the bombing would end soon.

Over the Shomali plain north of Kabul, U.S. jets dropped massive bombs in an offensive that lasted most of the day. Witnesses called it the fiercest such assault on the Kabul front since the start of the air campaign on Oct. 7.

In its report, Sky News said a U.S. Navy F-18 Hornet could be seen headed in the wrong direction toward an area of the anti-Taliban forces. Moments after the jet fired its missile, Sky News said the opposition's radio reported a bomb hit the village of Ghanikhil two miles inside opposition territory.

In other developments:

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it deplored a strike on its warehouse in Kabul -- the second this month. The Pentagon said it was an accident. The ICRC said the warehouse had contained the bulk of the food and blankets it intended to distribute to tens of thousands of needy Afghans.

French journalist Michel Peyrard will stand trial for espionage and other charges within a few days, the Afghan Islamic Press said Saturday. Peyrard, a journalist for Paris Match who was arrested Oct. 9, is in good heath, the agency quoted an unnamed Taliban official as saying.

Kenzo Oshima, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, dismissed calls for a pause in airstrikes to allow more aid into Afghanistan, saying the U.S.-led military assault had not significantly disrupted aid flow.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: