Monday, October 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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Low-flying US jets pound Kabul
Russian military chief meets Alliance leaders

Kabul, October 21
Low-flying US fighter jets buzzed over Kabul in pre and post-dawn raids today, dropping at least four bombs around the Afghan capital and producing no response from the Taliban’s air defence.

Three loud explosions were heard before dawn from the east of the city while a fourth, just after dawn broke, appeared to be further out, residents said.

Despite the planes flying low over the city, there was no sound of anti-aircraft fire, suggesting either that the Taliban is preserving ammunition or that their ability to respond to attacks has been severely depleted.

A senior Taliban official said at least 50-60 civilians had been killed in US attacks in the past three days in the western city of Herat.

Mr Abdul Hanan Hemat, chief of the Taliban’s Bakhtar Information Agency, said 50-60 civilians had been killed by US bombardments in Herat and 150 wounded.

The Taliban Cabinet today ordered extra weapons and ammunition to be sent across the country to fight US commandos, a Taliban spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Russian military and intelligence heads arrived in the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe today for a meeting with Northern Alliance leaders from neighbouring Afghanistan.

Moscow has pledged tanks and ammunition to help its struggle against the Taliban.

Among the Russian delegation was Mr Nikolai Patrushev, President Vladimir Putin’s successor as head of the Russian FSB secret service.

Senior ministers attended the meeting, in Kabul chaired by Taliban second-in-command Mullah Hassan, following the first US ground assault in the country on Friday, the AIP said. US special forces staged a night-time raid on the Taliban’s main stronghold of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

Mr Muttaqi said extra ammunition would also be sent to villages and districts under Taliban control. Despite the recent opposition offensives, the militia still controls about 90 per cent of the country.

The minister expressed satisfaction with the way the Taliban forces had taken on commandos so far and reaffirmed that the Taliban would fight “with their Islamic faith against aggressive Americans,” the minister said.

The cabinet also appealed for financial aid from Muslim countries to help the injured and the families of those killed in US attacks.

“We have made arrangements for the injured and the families of people who were killed in the American attacks,” Mr Muttaqi was quoted as saying.

2,000 US troops land in Pakistan

Over 2,000 US troops along with a large fleet of aircraft descended on the three airbases provided by Pakistan making it the biggest-ever presence of American troops in the country. 

With as many as 2,000 US military personnel using the airports of Jacobabad and Pasni as logistical airbases and the airport of Dalbandin, nearest to the Afghan border, as a forward operational base, the US military presence in Pakistan has been described as the biggest since the late fifties.

Besides, a significant presence of military personnel, about three dozen US Army helicopters and at least six AC-130 transport aircraft are operating from the three Pakistani airports.

The US military personnel have installed extensive radar facilities at the three airports which virtually cover the entire Pakistani airspace. The US military’s air activity in the region is conducted in cooperation with the Pakistan Air Force and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a Pakistani daily said.

Security arrangements have been made at all three airports provided for US operations. In Dalbandin residents have been barred from climbing on to the terrace of residential buildings.

Pakistan officials maintain that the US troops would be allowed the use of ground facilities as part of Pakistan’s commitment to extend intelligence, airspace and logistical facilities to the American forces in their military campaign against the Taliban and terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

The last time the US used Pakistan ground facilities was in 1963 when 500 US military and CIA personnel were stationed in Pakistan by Field Marshal Ayub Khan to establish a massive electronic intelligence-gathering facility at Badaber near Peshawar to spy on the former Soviet Union and China. It was finally closed in 1968 under Soviet pressure. AFP, PTI

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Omar’s son killed in raids: doctor

London, October 21
Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar’s 10-year old son was killed in the US raids on Afghanistan, an Afghan doctor who treated him said today. Dr Abdul Bari told BBC that Omar’s son died from injuries sustained on the first night of bombing raids on the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

Dr Bari said he treated the boy for several hours as the militia leader “begged” him to save his son. PTI

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Bush had ordered CIA to kill Laden

Washington October 21
US President George W. Bush signed an order last month telling the CIA to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden and destroy his global Al-Qaeda terrorist network, The Washington Post reported today.

"The gloves are off," one senior US Government official told the Post. "The President has given the agency the green light to do whatever is necessary. Lethal operations that were unthinkable pre-September 11 are now under way."

The newspaper described the operation as the most sweeping and deadly covert mission given to the CIA since its founding 54 years ago. DPA

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