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Two rockets fired toward the center of the Afghan capital

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Two rockets were fired late Tuesday into the center of Kabul, exploding about one block from the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy compound, Afghan soldiers said.

There was no report of casualties but one house was slightly damaged when a rocket hit the garage door. The house is usually occupied by Japanese Embassy officials but they had gone to the southern city of Kandahar the day before and the dwelling was empty.

The other rocket hit the top of a house about one block from the U.S. Embassy -- a secure compound with sandbag bunkers set up on every corner. Barbed wire and giant steel gates protect the grounds. U.S. special forces rushed to the site of the blast.

The rockets were fired shortly after 9:30 p.m., and the detonations could be heard in the downtown area.

German peacekeepers from the International Security Assistance Force said the rockets were fired from the Qalai Zaman Khan neighborhood in the hills on the northern end of the capital.

The blasts were the first such incident since the start of the grand council, or loya jirga, which opened June 11 to choose a new government.

International peacekeepers had warned of violence during the loya jirga meeting, perhaps from Taliban and al-Qaida fugitives or others seeking to destabilize the situation.

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