US bombing wounds up to 300 Taliban


US bombing of Taliban front-line positions north of Kabul has wounded between 200 and 300 Taliban fighters, aid workers in contact with Kabul said today.

The US last week sent in several flights of B-52 bombers to pound the Taliban front lines to the north of Kabul, where their entrenched positions face those of the opposition Northern Alliance. Fighters have been blasting the positions for weeks.

The B-52s dropped dozens of bombs that lit the Shomali plain in a wall of orange flame and sent pillars of smoke and dust billowing hundreds of feet into the sky.

Military experts said that with the number of wounded at that level, the number of deaths would be between 30 and 50.

"That is at the higher end of expectations", said one military source. "If their precision bombing is effective", then the death toll could be lower. The report could not be independently verified.

The Taliban have answered all questions on the numbers of casualties among their fighters by saying the number of injured is extremely small.

The size of the Taliban forces is not known, but their fighters are believed to number between 30,000 and 40,000, plus as many as 10,000 foreign fighters, commonly known in Afghanistan as Arabs, who come from countries in the Middle East as well as Pakistan and Chechnya.