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Afghanistan: U.S. Pre-Dawn Strikes Target Kabul

Kabul, 12 October 2001 (RFE/RL) - In fresh attacks early today, U.S. warplanes pounded positions north and east of the capital, Kabul, as the U.S.-led military action against Afghanistan went into its sixth day. Western news agencies reports say the bombs amd missiles struck around Kabul airport and near the front line between the Taliban and the opposition Northern Alliance.

The Jalalabad area was also bombed overnight.

The head of the Taliban militia's Bakhtar news agency, Abdul Hanan Himat, says dozens of people have been killed or wounded in U.S. air strikes against military bases near Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar. A Taliban official said today 200 civilians were killed in air strikes two days ago on the village of Karam near Jalalabad.

Neither report could be independently confirmed.

U.S. President George W. Bush yesterday gave the Taliban a "second chance" to turn over Osama bin Laden, the key suspect in terror attacks in the United States on emonth ago.

"My focus is bringing Al-Qaeda to justice and saying to the host government (the Taliban), you had your chance to deliver. Actually, I will say it again: If you cough him (Osama bin Laden) up and his people today, that we will reconsider what we are doing to your country. You still have a second chance. Just bring him in, and bring his leaders and lieutenants and other thugs and criminals with him."

The U.S.-led air campaign was launched on 8 October after Taliban rulers repeatedly refused to hand over Osama bin Laden.

In other news, hundreds of protesters clashed today with police in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi, setting a restaurant on fire.

Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters attacking the restaurant which belonged to KFC, an American fast-food company.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

In other parts of the city, protesters attacked and ransacked a government office, and also torched several vehicles.

In Quetta and Peshawar, police and paramilitary forces patrolled the streets. The two cities near the Afghan border have seen much violent anti-U.S. protests this week.

Leaders of radical Islamic parties have called for mass rallies today to protest the U.S.-led military strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan's supportive role in U.S. efforts to eradicate terrorism. A spokesman for President General Pervez Musharraf said today that stern action will be taken against anyone who breaks the law during protests.