Kabul crowd storms abandoned US embassy

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The Independent Online

Thousands of people demonstrated in the Afghan capital, burning an effigy of President George W Bush and vowing to launch a holy war against America.

The protest appeared to be the largest in Kabul since the United States threatened to attack Afghanistan to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the 11 September terrorist attacks, and to destroy his training camps.

During the rally, some of the crowd entered the abandoned US embassy compound, set fire to several vehicles and prised the US seal from above the entrance. Taliban officials moved them out of the compound, which the US abandoned in 1988.

"Long live Osama. Down with America," the crowd chanted. "Anyone who supports America is a traitor."

Heavy fighting, meanwhile, was reported in the rugged mountains of northern Afghanistan, where the opposition alliance is battling Taliban troops. Alliance spokesman Mohammed Ashraf Nadeem said both sides used artillery, rocket launchers, tanks and machine guns, but that neither side had taken over new territory.

No death toll was immediately available, and it was not possible to independently confirm his account of the fighting.