5 Rockets Hit Afghan Capital

Five rockets slammed into Kabul at daybreak Tuesday in a rare attack on the Afghan capital less than three weeks before presidential elections, police and residents said.

The explosions, heard by AP reporters, occurred to the east of the city near the international airport.

At least one child was wounded, said Said Abdul Ghafar, the Kabul criminal police chief. He said one of the rockets fell in a residential neighborhood of the capital. There were no immediate reports on other casualties or damage.

A few rounds of sporadic gunfire followed the rockets. A police
officer in eastern Kabul said that it was not clear why the shots
had been fired but that security forces were all on alert. The
police officer requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to
speak to the media.

"It was very loud, just as we were praying," said Kabul
resident Ismail Khan, who said he was conducting Islam's dawn
prayer when the rockets went off in close succession nearby.

Though bombings, suicide attacks and gunbattles frequently take
place across much of Afghanistan, Kabul has been relatively spared
from the violence in recent weeks.

The rocket attack Tuesday came as Afghans brace for key
presidential and local councilor elections later this month. The
Taliban have vowed to disrupt the vote, and 11 people were killed
in a bombing Monday in Herat, western Afghanistan's largest city.

Some 101,000 NATO and U.S. forces are deployed to secure the
country. This includes a record 62,000 U.S. troops, more than
double the number a year ago.

Nine NATO troops have been killed in fighting or bombings this
month, including three Americans on Sunday and three on Saturday,
along with two Canadians and one French.

July was the deadliest month for international troops since the
2001 U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban's hard-line Islamist
government for sheltering al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.


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