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Afghanistan: 40 Reported Dead After U.S. Attacks

Kabul, 23 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Reports from Afghanistan citing Taliban and Afghan sources say U.S. air raids killed some 40 people overnight, including worshippers in a mosque. Abdul Hanan Himat, the head of the Taliban's Bakhtar information agency, said the mosque victims were among 15 people killed and 25 injured in the western city of Herat. Reuters reports he also said 25 people were killed when bombs hit Darul Aman to the south of Kabul.

In another incident, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press says five people died and 10 others were injured when U.S. warplanes bombed a convoy of oil tankers carrying fuel towards the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

The death tolls could not be independently verified.

U.S.-led attacks on Kabul resumed today after a one-day break that let American planes attack Taliban front lines north of the capital.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the military is ready for forces of the opposition Northern Alliance to move north and south against the Islamic militia.

In Islamabad late yesterday, Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf reiterated his call for the military assault on Afghanistan to end as soon as possible, preferably before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins in the middle of next month.

Also, Pakistani officials said today Pakistan plans to send back some Afghan refugees who entered the country illegally in recent days.

Shafi Kakar, a government official in the the southwestern Baluchistan province, said Afghanistan's ruling Taliban yesterday agreed to take back the refugees.

Kakar said two camps will be set up inside the border and that the United Nations will provide food and supplies for the refugees.

A spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency said the UNHCR already had provided some 100 tents to the Taliban to erect the camps. But the UNHCR again appealed to Pakistan to open its border.

Thousands of refugees are reported massed at the border trying to sneak into Pakistan. President General Pervez Musharraf, speaking on CNN today, said Pakistan cannot open "the flood gates to all refugees" flowing into the country.