Tuesday, October 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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US, BRITISH FORCES POUND AFGHANISTAN
Kabul, Kandahar bombed * Over 20 feared killed

Tomahawk cruise missile is launched from the USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) in a strike against Al-Qaida training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan on Monday.
Tomahawk cruise missile is launched from the USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) in a strike against Al-Qaida training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan on Monday.
— Reuters photo

Washington/Islamabad October 8
US and British war planes and naval ships launched attacks on Afghanistan for the second successive night today targetting Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad resuming their military operations to hunt down Osama bin Laden and Taliban militia.

“These (strikes) are similar to yesterday. We have said that this is a continuing operation,” one official told Reuters several hours after US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that initial Cruise missile and bombing raids on yesterday appeared to be successful.

There was no indication of what types of weapons were involved in the new round of strikes.

One of the defense officials said the military strikes were designed to knock out air defense missiles, fuel depots and airfields, and that some raids were also planned against Taliban troop concentrations.

Mr Rumsfeld said in interviews on morning television shows that last night’s opening military round in the new war on terrorism was “very successful,” but more strikes would be delivered.

As the US military assessed damage from yesterday’s attacks and military planes returned to bases after dropping food to thousands of refugees in Afghanistan, Mr Rumsfeld declined to say when more “overt and covert military attacks” would occur.

But he said again that Washington’s declared war on terrorism would be long and difficult.

In Kabul, anti-aircraft fire was heard tonight signalling a second night of attacks by the US and British coalition.

Power was cut throughout the city as the rattle of anti-aircraft fire began about 8.40 p.m. local time.

It also appeared the Taliban were firing surface-to-surface missiles, presumably toward opposition forces about 20 km north of Kabul.

About 20 minutes after the anti-aircraft fire began, two loud explosions could be heard north of the city in the area of the airport.

Earlier, the Pakistan-based agency said 10 persons had died in the Qasabah Khana neighbourhood near Kabul airport, while more than 10 had been killed near the offices of state-run Radio Shariat.

“There is a possibility that the number of deaths is more,” AIP said, without specifying whether the victims were civilians or Taliban.

“It’s pretty clear he’s in Afghanistan somewhere,” Mr Rumsfeld told NBC’s “Today” show. But he stressed that Bin Laden was not the chief target of the strikes by US and British warships and aircraft, and that killing or capturing the fugitive would not mean victory in the war.

“My impression is that it has been very successful. We do, however, have to understand that it’s going to be a very long and sustained effort,” he said of the strikes in an interview on CNN.

Mr Rumsfeld discounted Taliban claims that their forces had shot down at least one western warplane, adding that none of the Taliban’s few aging, Soviet-built MiG jet fighters had even taken off during the attack.

British forces, which participated in the first day’s strikes on Sunday, were not involved in the first wave today, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said. But they took part in the second wave of attack.

The Secretary cautioned against personalising the conflict, saying that even if Bin Laden were eliminated his Al Qaeda network would carry on.

“This problem is not going to be rooted out by a Cruise missile,” 

Mr Rumsfeld said of the 50 $ 1 million Tomahawk Cruise missiles that were launched at Taliban airfields, warplanes, command and control centres and other targets.

Mr Rumsfeld stressed that all of the targets attacked last night and early this morning in Afghanistan were military and that all US strike aircraft and British support planes returned safely to their bases despite Taliban claims that at least one aircraft had been shot down.

“There have been two or three dozens targets,” the Secretary told CNN of the first night’s raids.

“They were all military targets. They were military aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, military airports and runways. They were terrorist training camps, they were a host of things.”

Canada said today it would deploy six naval ships as well as aircraft and 2,000 personnel to the coalition fighting terrorism and the former Soviet Republic of Tajikistan, Afghanistan’s northern neighbour, said it was prepared to let US forces use its air bases for military actions.

French Defence Minister Alain Richard said French forces would help Washington wherever needed. AP
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