Huge US B-52s attacked front line positions north of Kabul this morning, carpet-bombing Taliban troops in the field in wave after wave of strikes. Plumes of black smoke rose over the Shomali Plain about 30 miles outside the city as the bombs hit.
The opposition Northern Alliance said the attack appeared to be directed by American forces on the ground. Theyestimated that as many 60 bombs fell, but lost track as smoke masked the Taliban positions. Artillery was fired atthe B-52s in vain, and also at opposition forces across the front line, drawing return fire.
The assault came after the White House announced that the bombing would not stop for the Muslim holy month ofRamadan, saying the US "could not afford" to postpone the attack.
As the humanitarian crisis inside Afghanistan deepens, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has said he wouldlike to see an end to the military conflict in Afghanistan as soon as possible, so the world body could carry outurgent humanitarian aid operations.
Annan warned that tensions within the international "anti-terror" alliance could intensify the longer air strikesagainst Afghanistan continued. A truck convoy carrying 5,000 tons of UN humanitarian aid left Kyrgyzstan for northernAfghanistan today. The fifty-truck convoy was carrying urgently needed food, medicine and fuel to Faizabad inAfghanistan, a city now controlled by the opposition Northern Alliance. New Zealand announced today that it may sendan airforce Hercules as well as army medics and engineers to help a United Nations relief effort in Afghanistan.
- Luke Hunt, Agence France Presse Reporter in Islamabad, just returned from Quetta, near the Afghanistanborder.