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Sunday, 14 October, 2001, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Taleban show bomb devastation
Rubble of village
Whole families are said to have been lost in the strike
Afghanistan's ruling Taleban have taken a group of international journalists to a village in the east of the country where they say nearly 200 residents were killed by US bombing last week.

A reporter for the BBC said the village, which stank of rotting corpses, had been completely destroyed and that journalists had been shown shrapnel and an unexploded bomb.

We advise Muslims, children and those who reject unjust US policy not to travel by plane

Al-Qaeda spokesman
The organised tour took place hours before the US began an eighth night of air raids on Kabul, with planes appearing in the skies over the city.

The capital and three other cities - Kandahar, Jalalabad and Herat - were all struck on Sunday.

As strikes resumed, the Taleban offered to discuss handing over Osama Bin Laden to a neutral country if the US agreed to halt air strikes.

But Maulvi Abdul Kabir, the Taleban's second in command, repeated the demand that the US should show them evidence of Bin Laden's connection to the attacks.

The US was quick to reject the offer. President Bush said there was nothing to negotiate about.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation, which is blamed by the US for the suicide attacks on 11 September, warned US and UK citizens that it will retaliate for the raids.

"We advise Muslims, children and those who reject unjust US policy not to travel by plane... and not to live in high-rise buildings," Sulaiman Abu Ghaith said, in a videotaped statement given to the Arabic TV network al-Jazeera.

Weapon crew watch aircraft hovering before landing on the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier
The US military has stepped up attacks
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the statement was a clear admission of responsibility for the attacks. More than 5,000 people were killed when three hijacked airliners were deliberately crashed in New York and Washington, and another crashed in Pennsylvania.

In other developments:

Click here for a map of recent air strikes

US military officials have not confirmed the attack on Kouram - called Kadam in some reports - which took place last Wednesday, although they have admitted a stray bomb killed several residents of a suburb of the capital, Kabul, on Friday.

"I'm in no doubt this was an American strike," said Rahim Ullah Yusuf Zai, referring to the Kouram attack.

The reporters were met with furious protests by distraught locals, many of whom said they had lost relatives in the attack.

I lost my four daughters, my son and my wife in this attack

Kouram resident
The bomb was meant to hit a helicopter at Kabul airport, but a wrongly entered digit in its global positioning system meant it missed its target.

Journalists who reached Kouram on Sunday were shown shrapnel and told by villager Gul Mohammed that rescuers were still digging for some 200 people feared killed.

"I lost my four daughters, my son and my wife in this attack," said a grief-stricken villager who was out of his house when the bombs fell on Wednesday night.

Anti-US demonstrators in Pakistan
Civilian deaths have provoked angry anti-US demonstrations
Our reporter says this is the first time such access has been given to foreign media by the Taleban and indicates the importance they attach to the propaganda war.

The journalists said that, to begin with, angry residents of the village threw stones at them and shouted at them to leave, and only the armed Taleban escort prevented the foreigners from being attacked.

The Taleban leadership has rejected a "last chance" to surrender Bin Laden that was offered by President Bush at a White House news conference on Thursday.

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported the reclusive Taleban leader Mullah Omar as saying in a message: "Our sin is that we have imposed an Islamic system in our country and have given protection to a homeless Muslim, oppressed, who cannot even find a place in any part of the world to sit for an hour."

Launch new window : Detailed map
Click here for a detailed map of the strikes so far

Click here to return

The BBC's Ben Brown in North Afghanistan
"The journalists reported seeing widespread destruction and 18 freshly made graves"
The BBC's Rahimullah Yusuf Zai
"Almost every house in the village had been destroyed"
The BBC's Jacky Rowland in Northern Afghanistan
"We are hearing reports that the Taleban are fighting back"
See also:

14 Oct 01 | Middle East
Khatami attacks Taleban and US
14 Oct 01 | Middle East
Saudi man denies funding al-Qaeda
14 Oct 01 | Middle East
Al-Qaeda threatens US and UK
13 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
US and Uzbekistan agree pact
12 Oct 01 | South Asia
Fear and defiance inside Afghanistan
14 Oct 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Warriors on land and sea
11 Oct 01 | Americas
Analysis: Washington's next phase
11 Oct 01 | South Asia
Mapping Afghanistan's political future
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