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Archive for Monday, April 8, 2002

Rocket targets peacekeepers

April 8, 2002

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— A Chinese-made rocket exploded Sunday just yards from a camp housing international peacekeepers, the first such attack since security forces began patrolling the Afghan capital last year.

Elsewhere, a U.N. team sent to the central city of Bamiyan found evidence of three mass graves apparently filled with ethnic Hazaras killed last year in the Taliban's final month in power.

Nobody was hurt in the rocket attack on the Kabul camp of German and Danish troops, which occurred just after 2:30 a.m. local time, said Flight Lt. Tony Marshall, spokesman for the British-led International Security Assistance Force peacekeepers.

A 107-mm Chinese-made rocket flew over the peacekeeping compound and exploded to the northwest, Marshall said. Another rocket also was seen flying over the compound and an explosion was heard, but peacekeepers had not located the detonation site, he said.

Peacekeepers were searching the area for evidence and were trying to determine where the rockets were fired from.

In Bamiyan, near Kabul, the U.N. team visited the mass graves and spoke with local leaders Sunday before returning to Kabul, spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said. There was no information on the number of people buried or the exact circumstances of their deaths, but they apparently were killed just before the fall of the Taliban, he said.

There long have been reports of Taliban repression directed against the Hazara minority, which is about 10 percent of Afghanistan's population. The Hazaras are followers of Islam's Shia branch, which is dominant in neighboring Iran and a few other places but rivals the Sunni branch to which most of the Taliban belonged.

Hazara leaders claim as many as 15,000 of their people were killed in a religiously motivated slaughter orchestrated by the Taliban in many parts of the country.

In the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, workers have unearthed mass graves allegedly containing the bodies of Hazaras killed when the town fell to the Taliban in 1998.

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