Afghan rebel will 'fight on'

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The Independent Online
KABUL - The hardline mujahedin leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar vowed yesterday to continue artillery attacks on the Afghan capital until his demands are met. He wants the former Communist Uzbek militia leader, General Rashid Dostum, to withdraw his men from Kabul and then disband and disarm them.

United Nations staff left Kabul yesterday as rockets hit residential areas. Seven staff remained after three carloads left for Mazar-e Sharif, UN officials said. Diplomats were waiting for safety guarantees before evacuating Kabul, where 1,500 people have been killed or injured since Monday.

President Burhanuddin Rabbani told diplomats that he had expelled Mr Hekmatyar last week from the ruling Leadership Council, an uneasy alliance of seven mujahedin leaders. Mr Rabbani said he had also dismissed the Prime Minister, Abdul Saboor Farid, a nominee of Mr Hekmatyar, the diplomats said. Mr Farid ended a visit to Iran on Saturday and was believed to be in Saudi Arabia or Turkey.

More rockets hit the airport and residential areas in the east of the city and around the presidential palace. Five rockets damaged the Russian embassy in the south of the city. An embassy spokesman, Zmair Kaboulov, said the compound had been targeted deliberately.

The Defence Minister, Ahmad Shah Masood, ordered his Hizbe deputy, Abdul Hakim, to leave Kabul on Friday, mujahedin sources said.

A Hizbe spokesman in Peshawar, in Pakistan, said: 'Professor Rabbani has no authority to make such an announcement and, if he does, he will be in violation of the Peshawar agreement.' The Peshawar accord, signed between mujahedin groups in that town as Kabul fell to the guerrillas at the end of April, outlined procedures for the interim government administration.

Two members of the Leadership Council and General Dostum asked the UN to intervene. Intervention could include peace-keeping forces and humanitarian aid, General Dostum's deputy, General Majid Khan, said.

Iran warned yesterday that the present situation in Afghanistan 'was no longer tolerable'; its press accused Pakistan of sending ground forces in to support Hizbe Islami, writes Safa Haeri.

Tehran Radio accused Mr Hekmatyar of fighting for the 'monopoly of the power in Kabul'; it expressed its 'anxiety at seeing the former superpowers' rivalry being gradually replaced by regional feuding'.