Monday, October 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat attacked
British planes, submarines join strikes

Washington, October 7
The USA and British military forces today launched what President George W. Bush called “carefully targeted” counter-strikes against the Afghan Taliban regime, its military installations and the terrorist training camps it shelters.

“We will win this conflict by the patient accumulation of successes,” Mr Bush said from the White House Treaty Room as explosions rocked Kabul.

Mr Bush said he had demanded Afghanistan’s Taliban regime turn over Osama bin Laden, number 1 suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, but Taliban leaders refused.

“Now the Taliban will pay a price.” “Today we focus on Afghanistan,” Mr Bush said, “But the battle is broader. We will not fail.”

Some 40 countries were cooperating in many ways, Mr Bush said. This included offering landing rights or airspace for US aircraft. “We are supported by the collective will of the world.”

US Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld speaks on the operations in Afghanistan as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers (L) looks on during a Press conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on Sunday. 
— Reuters photo

In Kabul, the first explosions could be heard about 8:57 pm local time (2200 hrs IST), when it is dark. Five large explosions shook the city, followed by the sounds of anti-aircraft fire.

A Taliban official in Kabul contacted by telephone from Pakistan said, “We are under attack. They bombed in the south of Kabul.

“Our guns are firing,” the official, who gave his name only as Mudir, gave no further details.

CNN reported explosions in the northeast Afghan city of Jalalabad and the southern city of Kandahar where the headquarters of the ruling Taliban militia is located. Taliban leader Mulla Mohammed Omar lives in Kandahar.

The Islamabad-based private Afghan Islamic Press agency quoted the Taliban as saying that American planes had bombed areas near the Kabul airport in the northern part of the city.

US aircraft attacked Kabul, Herat and other Afghan cities this evening, dropping at least four bombs or missiles on the Capital near the Defence Ministry, witnesses said.

“I could hear the planes and then there were at least four loud explosions,’’ said Reuters correspondent in Kabul Sayed Salahuddin. “ A black plume of smoke is rising, it seemed to be very big,’’ he said.

Witnesses said bombs or rockets appeared to land near the city centre just as Kabul residents were preparing to settle down for the night.

One big blast struck near the Defence Ministry, south of the Presidential Palace.

Electricity was cut almost immediately, although it was not clear if this was a result of a strike or a defensive measure.

Witnesses said Taliban anti-aircraft guns across the city began firing into the night sky.

President Bush said the raids were aimed at military installations of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban and guerrilla camps of the Al-Qaida network led by Osama bin Laden, blamed for the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The agency said there were no details of casualties and no reports of damage to the city itself. It added, however, that “huge smoke is rising near Kabul airport.”

Bush had warned the Taliban on Saturday that “time is running out” for them to hand over Bin Laden and top leaders of his Al-Qaida terrorist network. The White House also rejected a last-ditch offer by the Taliban on Sunday to put Bin Laden on trial in Afghanistan.

By Sunday, Washington’s war posture had an air of finality. Senators close to the investigation of the terror attacks advised Americans to be especially vigilant about more danger at home, once military action began.

American troops have been streaming into the region around Afghanistan for weeks. After Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited neighboring Uzbekistan on Friday, US military forces started arriving at a former soviet air base in Khanabad, about 145 km north of the Uzbek-Afghan border. British Prime Minister Tony Blair said British forces also took part. He said today that British missile-firing submarines were taking part in operations against Afghanistan.

Mr Blair said the submarines had joined in a USA-led attack on Taliban military facilities and forces in Afghanistan at the request of Washington. He said British warplanes would join the attack in the next few days. Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef told Reuters that he had heard via telephone that the southern city of Kandahar, headquarters of the ruling Taliban, was also under attack.

A major command base at the airport in Kandahar, stronghold of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and the chief protector of Osama bin Laden, had been destroyed, CNN said.

CNN said residents were fleeing the city. The channel said the eastern city of Jalalabad had also come under attack. The USA has been demanding that the Taliban hand over Bin Laden and threatening strikes against Afghanistan since the September 11 attacks.

US stealth bombers began attacking Kabul around 2130 IST today, marking the start of an attack anticipated since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the USA, media reports said. Broadcasters reported that B-2 stealth bombers were carrying out the raids. Agencies


Bin Laden, Omar safe

Islamabad, October 7
Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar survived the US and British attacks tonight on Afghanistan, the Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan said.

“By the grace of God, Mullah Omar and Bin Laden are alive,” Ambassador Abdul Salam Zaeef told reporters.

He did not elaborate and did not say whether either leader was near the scene of the attacks. AP



Pak airspace used for strikes

Islamabad, October 7
Pakistani airspace was used tonight to launch US-led military strikes on Afghanistan. 

Immediately after the attacks began, the Pakistan Cabinet went into an emergency meeting to discuss the situation. A Foreign Office statement said that Pakistan regretted that the Taliban leadership failed to realise the gravity of the situation and take the right direction in the interest of the Afghan people. AFPBack




Indian military put on high alert

New Delhi, October 7
The Indian military was tonight put on high alert after the USA began the air strikes in Afghanistan, senior officials said.

The government sounded an alert on its borders after a meeting of top officials of the defence and other ministries soon after Mr George W. Bush spoke with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee shortly before the attacks. UNIBack




Blow-by-blow account

Here is a blow-by-blow account of Sunday night’s events as these unfolded:

* Three big flashes on front line north of Kabul, reported by Reuters cameraman, indicated that attacks were under way around 2130 hrs IST.

* Afghan capital under attack, multiple rockets strike Kabul — eyewitnesses.

* Four large explosions heard near Central Kabul.

* Large plume of smoke seen over Kabul.

* Bush addresses nation at 2220 hrs IST.

* Blair makes statement shortly afterwards.

* Bush says Taliban will pay price for not cooperating with US Demands.

* Eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad under attack.

* Blair’s office confirms UK forces involved in military strikes on Afghanistan.

* Taliban envoy to Pakistan calls attack on Afghanistan "terrorist" act.

* Blair confirms British forces engaged in strikes on Afghanistan.

* Taliban envoy says Afghanistan cannot hand over Osama bin Laden.

* Blair says Germany, France, Australia, Canada committed to take part in action against Afghanistan.

* Residents flee areas around Kabul airport.

* Second wave of attacks on Kandahar.

* Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden alive after attacks, says Taliban envoy.

* Northern Alliance forces open artillery fire on Taliban.

* Chirac says French forces will take part in military action against Afghanistan.

* Rumsfeld says objective is to defeat terrorism, those who harbour terrorists.

* Rumsfeld says attacks used variety of weapons, land-and sea-based.

* US military official says 15 bombers, 25 strike aircraft, 50 Cruise missiles used in the attack.

* Rumsfeld says B1, B2 and B52 bombers were used in attacks.

* Rumsfeld says initial attack phase is not yet over. UNI



UNICEF office set ablaze, anti-American protests in Pakistan spread
John Fullerton 

Quetta (Pakistan), October 8 
Chanting "Death to America", angry anti-US demonstrators marched through the streets of several Pakistani cities on Monday to protest against the US-led strikes on Afghanistan with bombs and missiles.

Security forces throughout the country were on high alert, with key installations heavily guarded and police and paramilitary forces stationed around diplomatic compounds and other sensitive areas, witnesses said.

In the western city of Quetta, several hundred Angry youths marched through the streets chanting "Death to America". They set tyres on fire and hurled stones at police, witnesses said.

In the volatile port city of Karachi, long grappling with law and order problems, armoured personnel carriers with mounted machine guns were parked opposite the U.S. consulate. Main roads were sealed and hundreds of police and paramilitary rangers were deployed at key installations.

"Requisitioned vehicles have been parked across the roads leading to the U.S. consulate and other offices and we are not allowing anyone to cross the barbed wire barricades," one policeman on duty said.

Police used tear gas to break up several protests in the northwestern city of Peshawar, near the Afghan border, as angry students and some Afghan refugees tried to demonstrate against the attacks.

Witnesses said police used teargas to disperse students, who blocked a road in one section of the frontier city, not far from the border with Afghanistan. 

Anti-American rioters set fire to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) building in Quetta on Monday as protests against the U.S.-led attacks on Afghanistan swept the western Pakistani city.

Black smoke billowed from the building on the edge of town, where a U.N. vehicle was also burnt and all the windows in the nearby offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were broken, witnesses said.

Police and firemen tried to contain both the protests and the blaze, but demonstrators roaming the city in groups of up to 1,000 seemed to outwit their efforts.

Outside the UNHCR office, the agency's sign lay in the street amid countless rocks thrown during the protest.

Earlier, police fired into the air to disperse unruly crowds in the centre of the Baluchistan province capital, scene of the worst of the unrest sweeping Pakistani cities.

Demonstrators fired from rooftops and 10 people were injured, including one hit by a bullet. Reuters



NATO agrees AWACS deployment to USA

Brussels, October 8 
NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said on Monday the alliance had formally approved the deployment of five of the alliance's AWACS surveillance aircraft in the United States.

Robertson said the aircraft's deployment to the United States, where the planes will assist in counter-terrorism operations, would allow U.S. surveillance aircraft to be deployed elsewhere. He said the planes could be moved within the next 24 to 48 hours.

"The allies agreed that five NATO AWACS will deploy to the United States to assist in counter-terrorism operations," Robertson said after a meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels.

While just two NATO members -- the United States and Britain -- participated in Sunday's strikes on targets in Afghanistan, "other NATO allies have pledged direct military support as this operation unfolds," Robertson said.

Retaliating for the September 11 hijacked airliner attacks on the United States, American and British forces bombed targets in Kabul, Kandahar — stronghold of the Afghanistan's ruling Taliban -- and the eastern city of Jalalabad. Reuters



20 killed in Kabul in US raids

Islamabad, October 8
The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) agency said on Monday that at least 20 people were killed in Kabul overnight during United States air strikes on the city.

AIP, based in Peshawar in neighbouring Pakistan, said 10 people were killed near Kabul airport on the northeastern edge of the capital and another 10 died when a bomb fell near the Voice of Shariat radio office in central Kabul.

AIP quoted its sources in the city as saying the death toll could still rise.

The United States launched at least three raids on the Afghan capital starting on Sunday night. Raids were also carried out on Kandahar, stronghold of the ruling Taliban movement, and on the eastern city of Jalalabad. Reuters



'Bin Laden still in Afghanistan'

Islamabad, October 8
Saudi-born fugitive Osama bin Laden is still in Afghanistan after U.S.-led bombing raids but Kabul had no contact with him, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan said on Monday.

Mullah Abdul Saleem Zaeef said the house of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had not been hit when bombs fell on his district.

Asked about bin Laden, Washington's prime suspect in the September 11 attacks in the United States, Zaeef said: "We don't have any contact with him but he is still in Afghanistan."

Omar, who is based in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, was also unscathed. "The area was attacked but his house was not hit," Zaeef said.

Afghanistan has said it would not hand bin Laden over to the United States unless Washington presented convincing proof that he was involved in the September 11 suicide plane attacks.

Washington has rejected that condition and insisted Kabul must close down the al Qaeda organisation it says bin Laden uses to train Islamic fundamentalist fighters. Reuters


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