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U.S. Planes Continue to Strike Afghan Capital for Fourth Day

By Robyn Dixon and Paul Richter
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- JABAL-US-SARAJ, Afghanistan

U.S. warplanes unleashed their heaviest attacks yet on the Afghan capital of Kabul on Wednesday night while the anti-Taliban opposition claimed that wholesale enemy defections had allowed it to sever a key north-south highway.

On the fourth day of airstrikes, U.S. aircraft flying day and night raids rocked the regions around Kandahar and Kabul, including areas just west of the capital where Osama bin Laden is believed to operate terrorist training camps.

The bombers also hit a Taliban garrison in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, where the Afghan government is locked in a struggle with the rebel coalition known as the Northern Alliance. Warplanes have bombed the city for three straight days.

In Washington, President Bush issued a list of 22 “most wanted” international terrorists, headed by Bin Laden, the Islamic extremist suspected of masterminding the suicide attacks that flattened the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon a month ago Thursday.

Administration officials said they hoped that publicizing the terrorists’ names and photographs would generate fresh intelligence that could lead to their capture.

The White House also called on television networks to use caution in broadcasting videotaped statements by bin Laden, saying they could incite violence against Americans and might even contain coded instructions for terrorist acts.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters Thursday that cave complexes, which he declined to further identify, had been hit by an array of precision munitions.

While Rumsfeld offered no indication whether the caves may have been occupied at the time of the strikes, destroying the complexes was an important objective, since Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader U.S. officials hold responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, has used fortified caves as residences and headquarters.