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Afghan Explosions Not U.S. Strike - Officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials vehemently denied any involvement in explosions that rocked the capital of Afghanistan on Tuesday and said they were not U.S. strikes in response to the terror attack on America. Some U.S. officials suggested the blasts outside Kabul, shown in dramatic live television footage on CNN, could be the work of the Afghan opposition seeking revenge for the assassination of its leader.

"In no way is the United States government connected with those explosions," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters in Washington.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "We have no knowledge of who is responsible for the attacks in Afghanistan. But the United States is not."

Washington believes Saudi-exile Osama bin Laden, who lives in Afghanistan, may be linked to Tuesday's devastating terror attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York.

But a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the apparent rocket attack on the outskirts of Kabul was not a method the United States would use.

"This has nothing to do with the United States and it might be the work of the (opposition) Northern Alliance responding to the attack which killed (Ahmad Shah) Masood," the official said.

U.S. officials believe Masood, the Afghan opposition chief who led the fight against the ruling Taliban, was killed by a suicide bomber on Sunday, although his aides said he had survived.

Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, who are sheltering bin Laden, have been fighting their guerrilla enemies north of Kabul and launched a fresh push against opposition positions on Tuesday.

"There has been some sort of explosion near the airport but I do not know how much damage there has been," the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef told Reuters after contacting Kabul.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 11, 2001

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