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AFGHANISTAN - Oct. 7 - US/UK Air & Missile Assault.

US and British forces launch a thunderous air assault on military targets and suspected terrorist camps across the country, using scores of planes and ships massed over the past month to retaliate for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon. The attacks come first from about 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched by US planes and US and British submarines. Each Tomahawk carries an explosive warhead of about 1,000 pounds. They come also from about 15 long-range, land-based B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers, as well as 25 strike aircraft based on aircraft carriers. The B-2s flew from their base in Missouri in the US, and other planes flew from the British-controlled island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The attacks are aimed at the Taliban's air force and military airports, and radar and air defence units. Air strikes hit several cities including the capital Kabul, the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar in the south, and Jalalabad in the north-east.

In Kabul, the targets included the airport, presidential palace and national TV and radio facilities. In Kandahar, the attacks hit the airport, destroying radar facilities and the control tower. The strikes target housing units built for members of Bin Ladin's Al Qaida. They also hit the Taliban national headquarters in Kandahar. Smoke is reported billowing from the high-walled compound of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar about nine miles outside of Kandahar. But soon after the attacks were first announced, the Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef said Bin Ladin and Mullah Omar survived the assaults. He branded the US and British actions "a terrorist attack" and said the US "will never achieve its goal".

US Pres. Bush said the US and its allies acted because the Taliban rulers had ignored an ultimatum he gave them more than two weeks ago to close terrorist training camps and hand over suspected terrorist leaders, including the Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Ladin. He added: "The battle is now joined on many fronts. Now the Taliban will pay a price". The Taliban claimed they had shot down one plane, but Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, reported no losses in the first wave of air attacks. US officials said it was too early to judge whether the strikes were effective. The State Department warned Americans abroad that its attacks on Afghanistan might lead to retaliation aimed at US citizens and interests. Bush said the attacks would likely drive Al Qaida militants deeper into hiding. But allied operations would "clear the way for sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them out and bring them to justice". The attacks were carried out only by US and British forces, but Bush said forces were promised by Canada, Australia, Germany and France. He said more than 40 countries granted air transit or landing rights, and "many more" shared intelligence. US and British forces used the airspace of Pakistan to launch some of their attacks. The NATO was not directly involved in the attacks, but it will soon deploy AWACS surveillance aircraft in the US, filling a US request for support of anti-terrorist operations.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld listed the objectives of the assault as: making it clear to the Taliban that "harbouring terrorists carries a price"; acquiring intelligence for further operations against the Taliban and Al Qaida; developing ties to opposition groups; making it more difficult for terrorists to reside in Afghanistan; making coalition operations easier by attacking Taliban offensive systems; and providing humanitarian aid to Afghan people. Two C-17 cargo planes began dropping food and medicine to Afghan citizens. On Oct. 8, military targets in Afghanistan came under attack from US cruise missiles and bombs for a second night and into the daylight hours. Explosions were again reported in Kabul and Kandahar. Gen. Myers said 10 land-based bomber aircraft and 10 carrier-based aircraft were involved in the Oct. 8 attacks, as well as Tomahawk land attack missiles fired from US destroyers in the Arabian Sea. US military transport planes dropped 37,000 packages of food rations, but relief officials worried that US-led military strikes were making the country's food emergency significantly worse. The food packages will feed only a small fraction of the 7.5m Afghans believed to be in danger of serious hunger or starvation as cold weather approaches.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Oct 13, 2001
Words:725
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