Afghans ordered to make heavens open Parched Afghans ordered into mosques

Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) - The Taliban Islamic militia forced thousands of people in the capital yesterday to pray for rain in the country's parched rural areas.

Radio Shariat, mouthpiece of the militia, ordered people into mosques for the prayers. In recent months there has been little rain or snow in Afghanistan, which depends on both for drinking water and irrigation.

"Today's gathering may become a sign to God of a lack of rain and snow for Afghanistan," a cleric told more the 5,000 people at Assad Gah mosque. "But under previous governments, the leaders ... not only discouraged people from praying, they also destroyed much of the country, especially Kabul."

As midday prayers were beginning, four people were killed and 32 wounded when a plane belonging to a northern warlord fighting the Taliban bombarded a residential area of the capital.

Later, an explosion in central Kabul killed three people and wounded 37. There was no immediate information about the cause of the blast, which was heard across the city.

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