Red Cross aid reaches stricken city

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The Independent Online

The international Red Cross said a 59–truck aid convoy it sent with supplies for thousands of needy people had arrived in the Afghan city Mazar–i–Sharif today.

The convoy carrying 1,500 tons of food left neighboring Turkmenistan on Tuesday for the northern Afghan city, the Red Cross said. The convoy also carried six medical kits for hospitals treating the war–wounded in the area.

The food supplies would be distributed to some 65,000 people around Mazar–i–Sharif. Aid agencies have been rushing supplies into the war–hit region ahead of the harsh Afghan winter.

"The population of this area is once again enduring extreme hardship, especially families that had to move from their homes because of the latest events", said Olivier Martin, head of the ICRC delegation in the city. "People still fear lack of security and are desperately trying to find ways of surviving the winter."

Mazar–i–Sharif has a violent history in recent years as control of the city has shifted back and forth between Taliban and opposition forces – leading to retribution killings or mass murders of civilians by both sides.

The ICRC said yesterday it had recovered between 400 and 600 bodies in the city, but declined to say whether the victims were civilians or military.

Another 10–truck convoy transporting aid to support the ICRC operation throughout the country is now on its way from Mashad in Iran to the western Afghan city of Herat, the humanitarian organization said.