INTERNATIONAL

25 civilians killed in U.S. bombing

KABUL, DEC. 27. At least 25 civilians were reported killed today when U.S planes pounded a village in eastern Afghanistan even as American troop deployment was put on hold in the search for Osama bin Laden in the caves and tunnels in the mountainous Tora Bora region.

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported quoting unidentified sources that women and children were among the killed in the bombing at Naka village in Paktika province at 2 a.m. today.

An unusual sight

For the first time in 25 years, Kabul - normally a scene of savage street fighting - today witnessed an unusual sight, holding of a first-ever public meeting with an overwhelming response, particularly from women who, as if in a vengeance, cast away their `hizabs' (veils).

Thousands thronged the meeting in west Kabul in an apparent show of strength from the most deprived of the Afghan people, the Shitte Hazaras. Their leader, Mr. Karim Khalili, said time had come to ensure Afghanistan's transition from guns to ballots.Afghanistan's first public meeting after the Tarraqi era, though held in a hall ringed by well-armed British soldiers and Hizb-e-Wahadat cadres, attracted unprecedented response with the hall not only overflowing but people sitting on the streets and atop ruins of bombarded houses.

- PTI