KABUL, Afghanistan -- U.S. jets struck Kabul on Friday, the Muslim holy day, rocking the city with huge explosions and blasting a Red Cross compound for a second time this month. The Taliban said they captured and executed a noted opposition figure.
During late night bombing Thursday, three children were killed -- two from one family living in the northwest area of the city and a third from the east part of town, officials at the Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital said. The United States has repeatedly said it is not targeting civilians and regrets any loss of life.
The Taliban's Bakhtar news agency reported Friday that Abdul Haq, a guerrilla leader in the war against the Soviets, was captured after slipping into Afghanistan and executed by the Taliban for treason. The Taliban accused the opposition figure of spying for the United States and Britain, the agency said.
Haq had gone to Afghanistan with peace proposals on behalf of former king Mohammad Zaher Shah, an aide to the former monarch said in Rome. The United States and other Western countries have urged the former king to play a major role in forming a government to replace the Taliban.
Bakhtar said Haq, who has one foot, was captured early Friday after villagers in Logar province, some 30 miles east of Kabul, tipped off Taliban intelligence to his whereabouts.
There was a firefight between Haq's party and the Taliban, leaving four Taliban soldiers and three civilians injured, the agency said.
Bakhtar said Haq was "killed by the Taliban" under a religious decree that stipulates death for anyone spying for Britain and the United States. It wasn't clear how Haq was executed.
According to Bakhtar, Haq was found with two satellite telephones, U.S. dollars and documents. The news agency didn't say what the documents were.
"At the same time Abdul Haq was captured one jet and two helicopters came to try to help him but they failed," the agency said.
In Peshawar, Pakistan, Haq's nephew, Mohammed Yousuf, said "Bakhtar news agency is lying. Know that he is alive."
Asked how he knew that, he replied: "We don't have any source but we know that he's alive." He refused to give details.
The nephew said Haq went to Afghanistan six days ago along with six or seven people, most of them his relatives.
In Rome, Hamid Sidiq, a spokesman for the former king, said: "Commander Haq was on a mission for peace, not for war. He was not going to fight anyone but to talk to tribal elders to inform them about the peace initiative of his majesty, the king."
If the report about Haq's death is confirmed, he would be the second key opposition figure killed in two months. Northern alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massood was assassinated in a Sept. 9 suicide bombing.
Despite days of U.S. bombing aimed at crucial supply lines north of the capital city of Kabul, Taliban forces appeared to hold their ground. Opposition commanders complained the attacks were too weak to break the Taliban lines.
After another night of sometimes intense bombing, three huge detonations shook Kabul at midday, raising clouds of smoke from the direction of the airport and the Khair Khana district to the north. It was unclear where the third explosion occurred.
One of the blasts struck a compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to security guard Abdul Shakour. He said warehouses used to store humanitarian supplies were damaged and stocks of rice, beans, blankets and oil were on fire. The compound was hit during an attack Oct. 16.
Following the attack, bright orange flames roared through the ICRC warehouse as the ICRC's Afghan staff stood and watched helplessly.
"This is the second time our warehouses have been hit," ICRC worker Abdul Rashid said as he watched the flames. "Of course I am sad. We had special programs over the next several days to distribute these items to the disabled people."
During a sermon at a Kabul mosque Friday, the Muslim sabbath, an Islamic cleric said the "infidel hit our nation, even on Friday. They are very unkind to our people." He urged the faithful to be patient because "we will win."
In other attacks-related developments:
-- Britain announced Friday it will commit 200 special forces troops to the offensive in Afghanistan as part of a larger military force to include warships and planes. They are to be stationed on assault ships in the region, and another 400 are to be on standby, Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram told Parliament.
--Marine Corps commandant Gen. James Jones said the Marines' top special operations unit is ready to deploy to Afghanistan on six hours' notice. He spoke aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea.
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