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Monday, 8 October, 2001, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
US threatens more strikes
Kabul resident Mohammed Ibrahim (l) looks at remains of destroyed home (AP)
Kabul residents salvage belongings from a destroyed house in central Kabul
The United States has said it will carry out further air assaults on Afghanistan after launching an initial series of strikes on Sunday night.

US military sources said the bombings, which Washington carried out with the help of British military forces, would carry on for several nights to come.

After the first waves of attacks, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said "very considerable damage" was inflicted on the targets.

But the Taleban said there were civilian casualties, with about 20 people killed including women, children and elderly people.

The Taleban ambassador in Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, described the strikes as "a terrorist attack... not only against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, but on the whole Muslim world".

Fifteen bombers, 25 strike aircraft and 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles were deployed as the US hit back 26 days after the suicide attacks in New York and Washington.

In other developments:

  • Protests against the air strikes in Afghanistan break out in two Pakistani cities as President Musharraf tries to reassure people that strikes hit military targets and did not hit Afghan cities
  • US citizens in Indonesia are advised to stay indoors and be prepared for possible evacuation amid threats from hardline Muslims
    US warplanes launched from carriers in the Gulf
  • Egypt recognises the US' right to bomb Afghanistan "if it has conclusive evidence"
  • The main target of the attacks, Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Laden makes a defiant statement - apparently recorded before the attacks - saying the US was "filled with fear from north to south, east to west"
  • The US closes its embassy in Saudi Arabia until further notice following the attacks
  • Iraqi President Saddam Hussein condemns the "aggression" against Afghanistan

Airstrikes attacked 30 targets; MOD say three were close to Kabul, four near other towns, and 23 in rural areas

The Taleban regime's air defences and command centres were the main targets. US President George W Bush told the nation on Sunday: "The battle is now joined on many fronts... we will not falter and we will not fail."

Hardware in action
50 Tomahawk cruise missiles
500lb gravity bombs
B-1 Lancers
B-2 stealth bombers
USS Carl Vinson
USS Enterprise

In addition to the attacks on Kabul, the Taleban stronghold of Kandahar and the eastern city of Jalalabad have each been hit at least twice since the operation began late in the evening local time.

The attacks worked like "a finely-oiled machine," said a US B-52 bomber pilot.

Military officials in Washington said all the planes returned safely - but the Taleban claimed to have shot at least one down.

The action followed warnings from US officials that time was running out for the Taleban to hand over the Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Laden, whom the US accuses of organising the 11 September suicide attacks that killed more than 5,000 people.

Internal division

The opposition Northern Alliance said "terrorist" camps at Jalalabad and the Taleban airbase at Kunduz were struck in the raids, as was the airport at Mazar-e-Sharif.

1625 GMT - First reports of attacks north of Kabul, then explosions in Kabul
1655 GMT -Targets in Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif come under attack
1834 GMT - Taleban ambassador to Pakistan says Osama Bin Laden and Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar survived attacks
2020 GMT: Fighting reported between Taleban militia and residents of the southeast town of Zaranj near the Iranian border
2105 GMT - Second round of attacks launched five hours after first
2250 GMT - Third round of attacks on Kabul
The Taleban said Bin Laden and Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar were unhurt.

Because of a strict nightly curfew enforced by the Taleban, residents of the battle-scarred capital had nowhere to run to during the bombardment.

Warplanes - some having flown all the way from continental America - roared over the city shortly after the curfew began at 2100 (1600 GMT).

Tomahawk cruise missiles launched at the landlocked country from ships and submarines to the south also flew across the sky and struck targets around Kabul.

US forces later air-dropped relief to Afghanistan, including 37,500 ration packs.

Exodus of refugees

Rumours of possible strikes have led to a major exodus of refugees from Afghanistan.

But a spokesman for the UN refugee agency in Peshawar in Pakistan said basic food and shelter "simply could not be provided" if there was a massive influx of refugees.

The aid agency Oxfam said Afghans were probably better off if they stayed where they were inside Afghanistan.

There also reports from Pakistan that some Afghans there are heading back into Afghanistan.

Religious parties say they are returning to fight, but correspondents say they may be going back to check on their families after the strike.

The BBC's Brian Barron
reports from onboard the USS Enterprise
The BBC's James Robbins
"There has been strong criticism of the strikes from some Muslim countries"
See also:

07 Oct 01 | Americas
US tightens security
08 Oct 01 | Americas
US balancing act
07 Oct 01 | South Asia
Bin Laden broadcasts his defiance
20 Sep 01 | Americas
The trail to Bin Laden
19 Sep 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
05 Oct 01 | Americas
The investigation and the evidence
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