KABUL - Rockets and shells hit homes and a bazaar in Kabul yesterday, killing more than 60 people and injuring 100 the day before planned peace talks between rival Afghan leaders in neighbouring Pakistan.
Two mortar bombs exploded among crowds in the Feruzhgar bazaar, killing 14 people and injuring more than 60 in the worst attacks since an informal ceasefire took effect two weeks ago.
A Defence Ministry spokesman blamed the hardline Hizbe Islami party of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar for breaking the ceasefire and bombarding the city with more than 40 rockets and shells. Kabul Radio said that 62 civilians had been killed in the lastest barrage, while local hospitals estimated the number of injured at more than 100.
President Burhanuddin Rabbani is due to visit the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, today 'to initiate an intra-Afghan dialogue' in a search for an end to the factional fighting that has killed 1,000 people and injured 6,000 since January, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said.
A rocket hit a first-floor apartment in a Soviet-built housing complex killing eight members of one family, including four children. The lone survivor, nine-year-old Fayaz, stood outside, dazed and bleeding from a shrapnel wound in his leg.
Nearby, a woman and her three sons were killed as they cooked and washed clothes. 'I just have one son left,' wept her husband, Mahmud Zahir. 'I don't know what to do.'
Outside the Pul-i-Kushti mosque, an army commander helped to load the dead and injured into a bus after two rockets exploded in the square just before prayers. More than 40 people were killed or injured in the attack, another soldier said.
Doctors at the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital said they had received 20 dead and 60 injured.
'This ceasefire is meaningless,' one doctor said, his voice breaking. 'They are bringing in more casualties all the time.'