Afghan police said today they had seized a major cache of nearly 300 rockets hidden on the outskirts of Kabul, which could have been used to attack the capital. The find included 278 122mm rockets with a range of 20 kilometres and 15 rockets with a range of 30 kilometres, city police chief Abdul Rehman Rehman told reporters. The discovery followed reports that Taliban insurgents were planning attacks on Kabul during a May 29 conference of more than 1,000 community and political representatives, Rehman said.
"We had reports that Kabul might be under threat from the north-east and north-west sides of the city," he said. The rockets were surplus from the Soviet deployment of Afghanistan in the 1980s, he said, adding that intelligence reports pointed to the involvement of foreign agencies in funding the movement of the weapons. Afghan officials accuse elements in Pakistan of supporting the insurgency in Afghanistan to exert influence in the country and balance rival India's power.
Pakistan rejects the accusations. Kabul was bombarded by rockets during the 1992-1996 civil war. The conflict resulted in the deaths of an estimated 80,000 civilians. Kabul regularly comes under mortar fire, but an attack with 122mm rockets could have a devastating impact, causing high casualties and presenting a formidable security challenge to Afghan and international security forces. No arrests had been made in relation to the cache find, Mr Rehman said.