St. Petersburg Times Online: World and Nation

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Attacks in Afghanistan fuel rumors

Rockets strike north of its capital. But the United States quickly denies any involvement.

©Associated Press

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2001

Rockets strike north of its capital. But the United States quickly denies any involvement.

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Rockets struck north of the capital near the airport early today, hours after devastating terror attacks in the United States.

The United States quickly denied any involvement in the violence in Afghanistan, which has been shielding Osama bin Laden, a terrorism mastermind linked by some U.S. officials to Tuesday's attacks in New York and Washington.

The explosions began around 2:30 a.m. local time and came in rapid succession.

Rockets also reportedly landed in the northern suburb of Khair Khana, hitting a Taleban ammunition depot. Giant plumes of black smoke billowed skyward. A Taleban military division is nearby.

Officials could not be reached at the airport.

Taleban soldiers in the center of Kabul said the explosions seemed to begin with a low-flying helicopter that fired rockets into the area at the airport. There was some return fire by Taleban with antiaircraft weapons, the soldiers said.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said explosions reported in Kabul are not retaliatory attacks by the United States. "The United States is not responsible," she said.

Her comments were echoed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a Pentagon briefing in Washington. "I've seen those reports," he said of the Kabul explosions. "In no way is the United States government connected to those explosions."

Another U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the fighting in Kabul appeared to be rocket attacks by Afghan rebels opposing the ruling Taleban in response to the attack on a rebel general over the weekend.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.