Kabul Fighting Dies Down As Interim Leader Arrives
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — VICTORIOUS mujahideen guerrillas fired deafening volleys into the air April 28 to welcome Afghanistan's new head of state to the capital after 14 years of civil war.
Sibghatullah Mojadedi and members of the 50-man Islamic Council that is to take power entered the capital after traveling for more than a day in a convoy of vehicles from Pakistan, witnesses said.
But the party waited outside the capital because of fears of attacks by hard-line fundamentalists who have rejected a power-sharing agreement.
Fighting died down in the city after three days of battles between supporters of the new government and followers of hard-liner Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
As the convoy waited outside the city, shells could be heard fired from tanks on the edge of the capital toward the south where Mr. Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami forces are concentrated.
Forces of the new coalition government on April 28 captured Martyrs' Hill, a strategic point to the south of the capital. The Hezb-i-Islami forces had used the hill to launch rocket attacks on the outskirts of the city.
A long line of veiled women filed into Kabul, fleeing fighting south of the city despite news of a cease-fire agreement between Hekmatyar and rival mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massood, who is defense minister in the new government.
The cost in human lives has been horrendous. Complete figures from all Kabul's hospitals are impossible to obtain, but the one Red Cross hospital in the city said it had received almost 200 casualties, some of them women and children wounded by rocket attacks. About 20 were dead on arrival or died later.
More than 1 million people have died in the civil war. The United Nations estimates that 10 million land mines are scattered through the country.