- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2002

GARDEZ, Afghanistan Angry residents emerged yesterday from shuttered dwellings to bury those killed in a rocket attack on Saturday.
Many of the dwellers in the capital of Paktia province criticized the Kabul regime for its weakness and accused the United States of indifference.
As many as 25 persons died when soldiers loyal to a warlord working with U.S. forces fired a torrent of rockets into Gardez, said Paktia Gov. Taj Mohammed Wardak. Seventy persons were injured in the attack.
One man died because the hospital in Gardez couldn't find his blood type, while two persons died while being transferred to the nation's capital, Kabul, 120 miles away.
"A small child died because a piece of shrapnel ripped open her abdomen," said Dr. Naqibullah Irfan.
From their heavily guarded compound on the southern edge of the city, U.S. special forces brought blood and medicine to the hospital to help treat the wounded, Dr. Irfan said.
But people say the forces must also use their military might to rein in the warlords.
"When one mortar is fired near the compound where the U.S. soldiers are, there are 20 planes in the sky right away, but when 800 rockets fall on the people of Gardez, nothing," said Moukan, a shopkeeper.
A U.S. military spokesman said yesterday that the American forces deployed in Afghanistan are quietly doing what they can to stop factional fighting in the east of the country, but he added that negotiating an end to local feuds was not their primary objective.
"Our mission here is to capture or kill al Qaeda and senior Taliban," said spokesman Maj. Bryan Hilferty. "Our secondary mission is to help to secure the country."
Maj. Hilferty said recent clashes between rival warlords in the east posed a threat to the country's fragile interim government. However, he added, halting fighting between warlords was largely the responsibility of the new authorities.

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