Sunday, October 21, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

USA begins ground strikes
Attacks Taliban frontline positions

Northern Alliance soldiers follow a tank as it drives by at a training camp near Dashti Kola in Afghanistan on Saturday. 
— Reuters photo

New York, October 20
After a fortnight of air attacks, the USA has launched ground operations in Afghanistan with over 100 army Rangers and other special forces targeting an airbase on the outskirts of the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

“The American ground war in Afghanistan is now underway. Army special forces and helicopter gunships are attacking Taliban military targets in Afghanistan,” the NBC television said quoting Pentagon officials.

Officials said the operation began overnight and was over by daybreak and the commandos safely returned to their bases outside Afghanistan.

The Pentagon has not given details of the operation. It had earlier stated that special forces were operating in Afghanistan but it was not to be seen as the beginning of the ground operations.

NBC said the “more than 100” special forces were involved in the operation which lasted several hours while CBS News said 200 army rangers carried out the exercise.

Yesterday, officials had confirmed the presence of special forces in northern and southern Afghanistan.

Reports suggested other covert missions were carried out along with the raids on Kandahar but targets were not known.

In Pakistan, two us military personnel were killed when a military helicopter on search and rescue mission crashed yesterday. Officials said the chopper never entered Afghanistan.

US President George W. Bush said in Shanghai that the two American military staff who perished in the crash “had not died in vain.”

He also said the US-led operations in Afghanistan were making “great progress.”

A Pakistan military official said yesterday that US officials informed his government that the special forces would be conducting “hit-and-run” operations in Taliban-ruled areas of Afghanistan in an effort to flush out Bin Laden, members of his Al-Qaida network and Taliban leaders.

The official said Pakistan was told US forces had been in northern Afghanistan for more than one week.

In preparation for ground action, the USS Kitty Hawk, an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean, was loaded with special forces last weekend. Air Force special operations AC-130 gunships began attacks in southern Afghanistan.

ISLAMABAD: US warplanes today attacked Taliban frontline positions in the northern province of Samangan, an opposition spokesman said.

It was believed to be the first time the USA had directly attacked Taliban frontlines in the area and only the second confirmed raid on frontline positions anywhere in the country.

“Since 6 a.m. today US planes have been bombing the Taliban positions,” opposition spokesman Mohammad Ashraf Nadeem told AFP by satellite telephone from the Dara-e-Souf valley in Samangan.

Meanwhile, six powerful explosions rocked Kabul in the early hours of today as US warplanes resumed night bombing of the city, witnesses said.

The aircraft swooped on the Afghan capital around 2:15 a.m. local time following a daytime strike during the Muslim holy day yesterday when two blasts were reported. AFP


Assault on Omar’s residence

Washington, October 20
US special forces parachuted into southern Afghanistan and attacked the residence near Kandahar of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in a coordinated raid to seize intelligence material, the USA’s top general said today.

“The mission overall was successful. We accomplished our objective,” said Air Force General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. AFP



US copter crashes, 2 troops dead
Taliban claims shooting it down

Quetta (Pakistan), October 20
A US helicopter, which crashed overnight on a support operation in Pakistan, came down near the southwestern airbase of Dalbandin, a local official said today.

“It has fallen in the Dalbandin area,’’ said the local official, who declined to be further identified. Dalbandin is 60 km (37 miles) from the Afghan border.

The US military said the helicopter crashed on a support operation in Pakistan, killing two persons. Aghanistan’s ruling Taliban said it had shot down a helicopter in a lightning US commando raid on their soil overnight.

The Taliban militia claimed that its forces had shot down an American helicopter in which two US air crew members were killed.

“I have received indications from our officials that Taliban soldiers hit the American helicopter which later crashed in Pakistani territory,” Afghan Deputy Ambassador Suhail Shaheen said here.

Officials in Washington admitted that the two American military personnel were killed today in Pakistan as a result of a helicopter accident while supporting “Operation Enduring Freedom.”

Pakistan confirmed the helicopter crash in its territory, but said it was an accident.

“Two crew members of a standby rescue helicopter were killed when it crashed today,” Pakistan’s defence spokesman Major-Gen Rashid Qureshi told the media, on adding the chopper which crashed in the southwestern province of Baluchistan was a standby helicopter used for rescue operations. Reuters, PTIBack

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