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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Heaviest Attacks Yet, Capital Attack Possible

KORAK DANA, Afghanistan?Taliban gunners fired missiles Wednesday at U.S. jets pounding the front line north of Kabul, the heaviest onslaught in four days of attacks there. Opposition commanders said they were bringing up fresh troops for a possible assault on the capital.

An American airstrike in Kabul, meanwhile, reportedly killed 22 Pakistani militants linked to Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. It was the highest reported death toll suffered by bin Laden’s allies since the air assault began Oct. 7.

In neighboring Pakistan, border guards reported five powerful explosions Wednesday near a region in Afghanistan’s Paktia province where bin Laden is thought to run a tunnel complex. The concussions near the Gor Way Tangi area were so powerful that Pakistani officials said they believed 5,000-pound bombs were being used to collapse mountainsides and close tunnel entrances.

Pakistani authorities said Wednesday that six Muslims from Somalia and Sudan?countries where bin Laden recruits fighters?were arrested leaving Afghanistan last weekend. An inquiry was under way to determine whether they were members of bin Laden’s al Qaeda terror network trying to flee American attacks.

Amid the roar of jets and the crackle of gunfire north of Kabul, opposition commander Haji Bari told The Associated Press that the northern alliance was bringing in thousands of new troops and weapons in anticipation of a green light from alliance leaders to march on the capital.

“We’re waiting for the order,” said Bari, deputy brigade commander in the Rabat district.

So far, U.S. strikes north of the capital have not brought an opposition advance. The northern alliance is also fighting to dislodge the Taliban from Mazar-e-Sharif, a key northern city.

The opposition claimed to have killed 35 Taliban fighters and captured 140 others?including Arabs and Chechens?in a battle Wednesday near the town of Kashendeh, about 60 miles south of Mazar-e-Sharif. The report could not be independently confirmed.

President Bush ordered airstrikes against Afghanistan after the ruling Taliban repeatedly refused to hand over bin Laden and his followers.

Since the campaign was launched, hundreds of Pakistani militants sympathetic with the Taliban and bin Laden have entered Afghanistan vowing to fight the United States.

Among them were the 22 Pakistanis killed by a U.S. strike. The militants?members of the banned group Harakat ul Mujahedeen?died when a U.S. bomb hit a house in Kabul where they were meeting Tuesday, said Muzamal Shah, a Harakat leader in Pakistan.

Shah said the men went to Afghanistan to help the Taliban “devise a plan for fighting against America.”

Pakistani border guards at Torkham refused Wednesday to allow 11 of the bodies to be brought into Pakistan for burial. Sources close to the Harakat ul-Mujahedeen said the bodies later were smuggled in.

The Pakistani group, which is fighting Indian soldiers in Kashmir, has been declared a terrorist organization by the United States.

U.S. attacks this week have focused on al Qaeda and Taliban positions facing Kabul and on Mazar-e-Sharif, in hopes that the anti-Taliban northern alliance can advance on those cities.

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