Afghanistan pounded by fresh air strikes
Afghanistan pounded by fresh air strikes
KABUL - The U.S. has launched a second wave of punishing air attacks on
Afghanistan, senior defence officials say, and witnesses report that
several cities have been hit.
The lastest reports indicate that targets in the northern cities of
Mazar-e-Sharif and Konduz are under fire.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the latest barrage resulted in
strikes against 31 targets.
"We will not stop until the terrorist networks are destroyed," he said in
a briefing at the Pentagon Monday.
Witnesses reported hearing bombs explode in the capital city of Kabul, as
well as anti-aircraft fire. Shortly after that the electricity was cut
People in the city of Kandahar also reported hearing at least three blasts
after jets flew overhead, followed by anti-aircraft fire.
Kandahar is where the country's Taliban rulers are based, including Mullah
Mohammed Omar. It also has an airport and radar station, which U.S.
officials claimed to have hit on Sunday. The Taliban's 2nd army corps is
headquartered in the city, along with al-Qaeda fighters.
Sunday's targets in Kabul included the airport, as well as Taliban
political and military bases. The Taliban's central army corps is also
located in the capital.
An opposition spokesperson in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif said
nearby Taliban positions were under attack by aircraft and missiles for
the second day in a row. Tanks and other Taliban army equipment are said
to be in the area.
Focus may shift to other countries
In New York, the U.S. notified the UN that the anti-terror strikes could
go beyond Afghanistan. Officials declined to be more specific.
The United States went on to justify Sunday's retaliatory strikes,
invoking a clause in the UN charter (Chapter 7, Article 51) granting
nations "the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence."
Just the beginning, officials say
Earlier today U.S. and British officials said Sunday's strikes were just
the beginning of their campaign to wipe out terrorism following last
month's deadly attack on America.
They said the strikes on military targets connected to the Taliban
government and suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden may continue for
several more days.
Pictures broadcast this morning by Al Jazeera TV in Qatar show rubble and
destruction in the Afghan capital of Kabul after Sunday's barrage of
cruise missiles and bombs that rained down on military sites around Kabul,
Kandahar and Jalalabad.
In London Monday morning, British defence staff chief Admiral Michael
Boyce said 30 targets inside Afghanistan were hit on Sunday, but didn't
have precise assessments of damage done.
Speaking with Boyce at a Defence Ministry briefing, Defence Secretary
Geoff Hoon countered reports that civilian areas might have been hit
during the attacks.
He said that television footage showing anti-aircraft fire over
residential areas could make it appear as though those areas were under
attack. He offered his assurances that they were not.
Taliban envoy to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef said 20 civilians had been
killed in Kabul alone. He told a news conference that the dead included
women, children and elderly people.
Hoon said the targets were military sites and terrorist training camps.
Boyce said three of the targets were in Kabul, four were near inhabited
areas and the other 23 were in remote, uninhabited areas.
The attacks involved 40 warplanes, ships and submarines. The British are
known to have three submarines in the area, but Boyce refused to say which
submarines were involved in the attack.
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