Second wave of air strikes hits Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

A second wave of air attacks by the United States against Afghanistan is under way, almost exactly 24 hours after the first bombings against 30 targets

Confirmation of tonight's attacks came from US Defence department officials in Washington. It appeared that missile attacks were targeted on at least three cities and around 20 planes were involved. British forces are not involved in tonight's raids.

CNN said that radio stations in Kabul reported that the city was under attack. There were also reports that Kandahar was under bombardment.

An opposition spokesman, Ashraf Nadim, reached by telephone, said that Taliban positions around the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif were under attack by aircraft and missiles.

He said opposition leaders were tipped off by the United States 30 minutes before the attack.

Anti-aircraft fire was heard at about 8.40pm (local time) in the Afghan capital, quickly followed by a power cut across the city.

About 20 minutes after the anti-aircraft fire began, two loud explosions could be heard north of the city in the area of the airport.

At about 9:30pm (local time), three bombs fell - one each in the eastern, western and northern parts of Kabul.

The western section of the city includes a television transmission tower, and the airport is in the north. The abandoned Balahisar Fort is in the eastern district.

Taliban gunners responded with heavy bursts of anti-aircraft fire. One high-flying plane could be seen dropping flares before the detonations.

In an indication that the United States might want to expand the military operation, a senior administration official said formal notification had been sent to the UN Security Council that counter-terrorism attacks may be extended beyond Afghanistan.

A legal document sent yesterday to the council reaffirmed the attack on the Taliban was an act of self-defence under the UN charter and said the US reserved the right to strike at terrorist cells beyond Afghanistan, according to the official.