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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Bush: Culprits will be punished
President George W Bush in the Oval Office
Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office
A grim-faced President Bush has mourned the deaths of thousands of Americans in the country's worst ever terrorist attack, vowing to find those responsible.

"Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror," Mr Bush told the nation on television.

Smoke billows from the Pentagon
The Pentagon is the heart of America's defence machine

The World Trade Center in New York was destroyed and the Pentagon in Washington seriously damaged when hijacked airliners slammed into them on Tuesday.

The Taleban authorities in Afghanistan have reportedly offered to consider extraditing the chief suspect, Osama Bin Laden, once they have studied the evidence against him.

A report in The Boston Herald says that at least five Arab men have been identified as suspects by authorities in Massachusetts.

Mr Bush warned the US would make "no distinction between the terrorists who committed the attacks and those who harbour them".

Hunt

The full resources of the US intelligence community and law enforcement agencies were searching for those who organised the attacks, Mr Bush said.


These acts shatter steel, but cannot shatter the steel of American resolve

President Bush

US navy aircraft carriers and missile destroyers are being deployed in the waters around New York and Washington.

And CNN television reported that three suspicious aircraft were being tracked in western Canada, though US officials said they hoped to be able to discount any malicious intent from them shortly. All commercial flights in the US itself are currently suspended.

"We have been attacked like we haven't since Pearl Harbor," Admiral Robert J Natter, commander of the US Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, said, according to the Associated Press news agency.

US officials voiced suspicions that the Saudi dissident and Islamic militant Osama Bin Laden - who is based in Afghanistan - may have been responsible for the attacks.

The Boston Herald said that officers are said to have seized a car laden with Arabic-language flight training manuals from the central parking garage in Boston's Logan International Airport. .

The paper reported that two of the five men suspected by the Massachusetts authorities held passports traced to the United Arab Emirates. One of them was a trained pilot, an unnamed source told the paper.

Emergency measures
Government buildings including White House evacuated
Lower Manhattan evacuated and National Guard brought in
All commercial flights to and from US suspended until noon Wednesday (1600 GMT)
Warplanes ordered to attack any suspicious aircraft flying over US
Seven US warships sailed to New York, two aircraft-carriers to help in rescue efforts

A Pakistan newspaper used by Mr Bin Laden has published a statement in which he denies involvement in the American attacks - although he said he fully supported them.

The Taleban's ambassador to neighbouring Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, told reporters when asked about Mr Bin Laden's possible extradition: "We can study the evidence and take action in light of that".

The UN said it is temporarily evacuating all of its staff in Afghanistan as a precaution. US missile strikes on Afghanistan followed the bombing of American embassies in East Africa in 1998.

See also:

12 Sep 01 | Americas
Arabic clue to attacks
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