Monday, October 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India






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It is ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 7
The long-awaited US-UK joint military strikes at the ruling militia of Afghanistan, the Taliban, began late tonight as sea-launched Cruise missiles targeted and crippled Kabul and Kandahar airports and Jalalabad city where the Taliban are known to be operating at least three terrorist bases, reports received here said.

The nature and extent of the Taliban’s retaliation, if any, was not known immediately. However, it is learnt that the Taliban have rushed at least 10,000 troops to Afghanistan’s border with Uzbekistan from where the US-UK special commando operations are likely to be launched anytime.

US President George Walker Bush, who addressed the nation minutes after the military strikes began, announced that the strikes were aptly named “Operation Enduring Freedom” because the America planes had also dropped food and medicine packet to the common people of Afghanistan.

Though there were no confirmed reports of the exact nature of the damages caused by the US-UK strikes, reports here suggested that the command-and-control systems and radar facilities at Kabul and Kandahar airports had been either totally destroyed or rendered inoperational.

The capital city of Kabul, the pictures of which were telecast live by American and British TV channels, was plunged into darkness immediately after the strikes began.

According to analysts here, each missile targeting Afghanistan carried a payload of at least £ 1,000, which is not enough to blast and destroy the innumerable mountain caves of Afghanistan. In one of these caves, Osama bin Laden, the prime target of “Operation Enduring Freedom,” is said to be hiding.

Analysts here also suggested that the Northern Alliance, a conglomerate of at least eight major Afghan trial out fits, is likely to step up its air and ground offensive in a bid to capture the highly strategic Mazar-e-Sharif town within the next 48 hours. Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Foreign Minister of Northern Alliance Government-in-Exile, told CNN after the strikes began that their troops would adapt their strategy as per the US-UK strikes proceed. He also disclosed that the eyes of the Northern Alliance were set next on the highly strategic Bagram air base, once used heavily by the Soviet occupational forces. He said the alliance would try to capture and control the Bagram air base and make it operational.

The US-UK military strikes are in retaliation to the September 11 terror attacks on the USA in which Bin Laden hand is evident, according to Washington. President Bush also said in his address to the nation that countries like Australia and France had pledged troops for the “Operation Enduring Freedom” after the strikes begin.Back

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