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Afghanistan: Taliban Claim Capture Of Mujahedin Leader

Prague, 26 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The Taliban today claimed to have captured Abdul Haq, a renowned former mujahedin commander. Haq was a leading mujahedin commander in the 1980s war against Soviet occupation. He had recently returned from the Gulf where he had been living in exile and had been reported to be preparing an anti-Taliban campaign.

A Taliban spokesman in Jalalabad told the Afghan Islamic Press that Abdul Haq was captured by Taliban fighters late yesterday together with four accomplices in Logar province, south of Kabul. The unnamed spokesman said U.S. helicopters went on a bombing mission in a bid to prevent Haq's capture.

The claim, however, could not be independently confirmed.

In Rome, an aide of deposed Afghan king Mohammad Zahir Shah told CNN Abdul Haq had traveled to Afghanistan with peace proposals on behalf of the king and others. "His mission was a peace mission. He did not go to Afghanistan to fight," said adviser Abdul Sattar.

U.S. warplanes continued overnight to strike targets in the Afghan capital Kabul and positions of the ruling Taliban north of the city. Abdul Hanan Himat, a Taliban spokesman, said seven civilians were killed in the raids on Kabul, which ended before dawn.

The interior minister of the opposition Northern Alliance, Muhammad Yunis Qanuni, told Reuters that opposition forces have no immediate plans to attack Kabul despite the air strikes.

Earlier, U.S. military leaders confirmed the use of cluster bombs against military and terrorist targets in Afghanistan.

General Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday the bombs are used only against appropriate targets. Both Myers and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stressed that the U.S. does not target civilians in its air campaign.

Rumsfeld said the bombings were killing both Taliban troops and members of the Al-Qaeda network, the group blamed for the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

A UN report said nine people were killed earlier this week in a village outside the western city of Herat that was hit by cluster bombs. The report could not be independently confirmed.

The Taliban education minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, appealed to international human rights groups to press the U.S. to stop using the bombs, which break open mid-air and spread many smaller bombs over a wide area. The bombs are controversial, as many fail to explode on impact and so may pose a potential danger to civilians.