US Raids: Europeans shot at as Kabul rages

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PRAYER LEADERS at mosques in the Afghan capital of Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban's stronghold, yesterday exhorted the faithful to protest against the missile strikes on eastern Afghanistan.

The anti-American fever spilt over into attacks on Westerners in Kabul. Shots were fired at a vehicle carrying United Nations workers, wounding an Italian and a Frenchman in an attack that a diplomat linked to the US raids in Afghanistan and Sudan. "It is clear that this was not an error, but a reaction to yesterday's American attack," said Lellio Crivellaro, charge d'affaires at Italy's embassy in Islamabad.

The Italian Defence Ministry said Carmine Calo, anarmy lieutenant-colonel, was hit in the chest by a ricochet.

Hundreds of Afghan people heeded the call to protest,taking to the streets to shout "God is great! Down with the US!" - and to decry the attack on Afghanistan as an attack on the entire Islamic world.

"We will not hand over Osama bin Laden (wanted by the US authorities as the prime suspect behind the Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam US embassy bombings) ... Osama is our guest and we cannot hand over our Muslim brother to the enemy of Islam," demonstrators in Kandahar vowed.

The Taliban spokesman, Wakil Ahmed Akhumzada, said 21 people were killed and another 30 were injured when US cruise missiles exploded at the Zhawar Kili Al-Badr base near Khowst, about 90 miles south-east of Kabul.

A Pakistani official said one of the missiles landed in Pakistan, killing at least five people. Akhumzada also said missiles hit targets near Jalalabad, about 60 miles east of Kabul. The deputy governor of the region had said three people were killed in the Jalalabad attack. A Pentagon official, speaking anonymously, said US missiles did not strike anywhere near Jalalabad.

US defence officials had earlier said that only the Al-Badr base was targeted: six sites were hit on the sprawling complex.