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Thursday, August 20, 1998 Published at 19:51 GMT 20:51 UK

World: Americas

Strikes 'planned for a week'

Khartoum: Sudanese television showed the damage

The US strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan had been planned for up to a week beforehand, according to Pentagon officials.

Though few details of the type of military action taken were given, US officials appeared confident that their simultaneous strikes had "at least disrupted" their targets - including a terrorist base in Afghanistan and a chemical weapons-related facility in Sudan.

An unnamed US official said that both strikes were by sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles.

CNN reported that between 75 and 100 missiles were used.

William Cohen: Used sufficient power "to disrupt them"
President Bill Clinton said the targets were linked to Osama bin Laden, a Saudi dissident whom the US believes to be involved in the embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya.

At the Pentagon US Defence Secretary William Cohen said the strike was "designed to attack his infrastructure" and would "hopefully destroy them".

[ image: William Cohen: No reports of US casualties]
William Cohen: No reports of US casualties
He added that he did not know the location of bin Laden himself, though reports from the Taleban suggest that he is safe.

In Afghanistan there were six targets, including the main Aswa Kali al Batr base, 94 miles south of Kabul, which the US said had trained "hundreds if not thousands" of terrorists.

It includes a command and control operation and is used by up to 600 people at one time, according to US intelligence.

General Hugh Shelton, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, identified the other targets as a support complex and four training camps linked to the base, used by bin Laden's thousands of followers and also forces from the Armed Islamic Group and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

"These bases provide refuge for terrorists, house the infrastructure for their funding international travel, and are used to train terrorists in the tactics and weapons of international terrorism," said General Shelton.

It has been reported that the missiles fired at Afghanistan flew over Pakistan, rather than Iraqi, airspace.

Sudan targets 'produce nerve gas'

In Khartoum the targets included a pharmaceutical plant the US said was producing chemicals used for VX nerve gas.

A support camp was also among the Sudanese targets.

General Hugh Shelton gives details of the strikes
General Shelton said the Shifa pharmaceutical plant was struck in north east Khartoum, 12 miles from the city centre, at 1930 local time (1830 BST).

He said the facility was "involved in the production of chemical weapons agents" including precursor chemicals for nerve agents.

[ image: Defence officials showed maps of the strikes]
Defence officials showed maps of the strikes
The Sudanese Government said that five "air raid strikes" had taken place.

The Governor of Khartoum, Majthob al-Khalifa, told Sudanese television that several people working at the facility were injured.

Sudanese television reported that a building struck by the US was a factory producing medicine.

Sudanese opposition sources in Cairo said "the factory is used for making chemical weapons with the help of foreign experts, notably Iraqis".

Mr Cohen warned that there could be further strikes.

"There might be other operations that may be required," Mr Cohen told a press conference.

"We recognise that these strikes will not eliminate the problem, but our message is clear.

"There will be no sanctuary for terrorists, and no limit to our resolve to defend American citizens."

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