U.S. was not connected to Afghan capital attack

Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — Explosions resounded north of the Afghan capital near its airport early today local time, 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 suspected terrorism mastermind linked by some U.S. officials to Tuesday’s attacks in New York and Washington.

"In no way is the United States government connected to those explosions," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the fighting in Kabul appeared to be rocket attacks by opposition rebels in response to the attack on rebel general Ahmed Shah Massood Sunday. The insurgents blamed the attempt on the ruling Taliban, a hard-line Islamic group.

An opposition spokesman denied the rebels were responsible for the violence, while a Taliban spokesman blamed the explosions on a fire at an ammunition depot.

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

Abdul Hai Muttmain, a spokesman for the Islamic militia, blamed the explosions on a fire at the ammunition depot. He did not say how the depot caught fire, but denied that there was an attack on the capital.

"There was an explosion in an ammunition depot, and our aircraft were flown to a safe place, creating a misunderstanding that there had been an attack. We deny that there was any attack on Kabul," he said.

However, it was unclear from his statement why it was necessary to move the aircraft to safety.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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