Kabul's Poorest Have No Escape from U.S. Bombs

Only the poorest of the poor in the desperately impoverished Afghan capital remain in the city as constant U.S. air raids spread fear and panic among a normally stoic people.

"Believe me, whenever there's a raid my children start crying. Last night, even I cried with them," Mohammad Nabi, 41, an auto spare parts salesman in the Qwaee Markaz area of Kabul, was quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP) as saying.

"When women and children scream in the middle of the night, that is terrifying enough in itself."

As U.S. jets buzzed overhead night and day, whether on bombing runs or surveillance missions to identify fresh targets, those who could not afford to leave were trying to find shelter wherever they could. Shopkeepers have moved their stocks to the countryside or boarded up their windows.

"We fear our goods could be looted if there is anarchy," said one merchant who did not want to be named. Taxi drivers said the city was becoming a ghost town.

"No one remains in the whole of Kabul to hire a taxi. I have been moving around the city all day to find a client but it has become very difficult," said 38-year-old Mushtaba as he sat in his rusty cab.

"Only those people who get around on foot or bicycle remain in the city. After a month you won't see anybody in the city. They may die or leave."

The Pentagon confirmed Saturday that a 2,000-pound (900-kilogram) bomb struck a residential area near Kabul, claiming a wrong digit was entered as the target's coordinates, killing at least four civilians, injuring dozens others and razing at least six houses to the ground, forcing their inhabitants to join the scores of already homeless people in a city where hundreds of thousands already rely on foreign aid just to eat. Thus far, U.S. bombs have killed a reported 400 civilians.

Tne such report confirmed that at least 160 people, mainly women and children, were killed in a village earlier this week when a U.S. missile fell on a neighborhood destroying everything in sight, including a thousand head of livestock in the farming community.

Instead of hitting a military helicopter at Kabul airport, about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the residential area, it landed in an area of traditional Afghan mud houses.

"I do not know whether they are going to eliminate the terrorists or create them. We are not terrorists, they have been forcing us to become terrorists," said auto parts salesman Nabi, who used to be a schoolteacher.

"There could be other alternatives. Bombardments won't be the sole solution. They should view other options."

The U.S.-led strikes are designed to force the Taliban to hand over their "guest", Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, blamed for the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and Washington which killed more than 5,000 people. But the Taliban leadership says it will never deliver him to his enemies unless solid evidence linking him to the attacks is provided.

After another night of heavy bombardment, residents of Kabul were seen moving from one corner of the city to another with their belongings stacked in lorries, trucks or wheelbarrows. "Our relatives live in Shari Naw. So we will also join them just to be close to our relatives," said Hekmatullah, 22, who was pushing a barrow full of his belongings.

"We used to live in Bi Bi Mahro area ... This is the fifth time I have moved between our home and our cousins' home."

As he spoke, Taliban anti-aircraft gunners opened fire on a U.S. jet circling the city in the bright afternoon sunshine. Clearly visible, it made two or three runs before disappearing over the surrounding mountains. By late afternoon, there was a sense of urgency among those still on the streets, as they rushed to find a place to settle before nightfall and the next round of bombings.

This article originally appeared in Islam Online, and was distributed by the Globalvision News Network.

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