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Sunday, 7 October, 2001, 19:36 GMT 20:36 UK
US strikes at Afghan targets
George Bush
Bush: Taleban will 'pay the price'
The United States has begun a military strike on Afghanistan.

Defense Department officials said that cruise missiles, bombers and submarines had been used in the attack on what was described as a broad range of targets.

We did not ask for this mission but we will fulfil it

President Bush
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in a Pentagon briefing that no aircraft had been lost but that the initial operation had not yet finished.

President Bush described the attacks, which also involve British forces, as a new front in the operation to combat terrorism.

Weaponry used in attacks
15 bombers
25 strike aircraft
50 Tomahawk cruise missiles
News of the strike began with reports at 1625 GMT of loud explosions and anti-aircraft fire in the Afghan capital Kabul, and later in the cities of Kandahar and Jalalabad.

Explosions and fires were also reported in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif.

The BBC's Catherine Davis - reporting from opposition-controlled territory in northern Afghanitan - says a huge flash lit up the clear night sky and several dull booms sounded across the plains north of Kabul.

Meanwhile the main target of the attacks, Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Laden, was seen on video believed to be recorded before the strikes making a defiant statement.

He said that the US was "filled with fear from north to south, east to west".

Flashes in sky
Flashes were seen in the sky over Kabul
In an address to the US nation, Mr Bush said strikes by US and British forces were taking place against training camps and military installations of the al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan, and that they had been carefully targetted.

Mr Bush said the Taleban would "pay the price" for sheltering terrorists.

(Click here for map of targets)

"In this conflict there is no neutral ground, there can be no peace in a world of terror...," he said. "We did not ask for this mission but we will fulfil it."

He added that the operation would be accompanied by deliveries of food, medicine and other supplies to the people of Afghanistan.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair echoed Mr Bush's words, saying the West would act with "reason and resolve" in its campaign.

The Associated Press quoted a Taleban official in Pakistan as saying that the Taleban was "ready for jihad".

Earlier, the Taleban says it has sent 8,000 troops to its border with Uzbekistan, which has given the US access to an air base for its anti-terrorism campaign.

The US administration has repeatedly rejected Taleban offers to bargain over the fate of its guest, Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Laden.

Background to strikes

The US promised action after terror attacks against the US on 11 September left over 5,600 people dead or missing.

US Air Force warplane
The US has formidable air power at its disposal
Two hijacked planes crashed in the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, and a third hit the Pentagon in Washington.

A fourth hijacked plane crashed in Pennsylvania.

The US was quick to name Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation as the chief suspects behind the suicide attacks.

President George W Bush demanded that the ruling Taleban in Afghanistan hand over Bin Laden and other suspects immediately or "share in their fate".

And on Saturday he said that full warning had been given and time was running out.

But despite diplomatic pressure from neighbouring Pakistan, the Taleban refused to expel Bin Laden.


The US has repeatedly stressed that their actions since the 11 September attacks were not directed against Islam.

World Trade Center on fire
The attacks on New York shocked all of America
President Bush has tried to obtain support from as wide a coalition of nations as possible.

He said that "either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists".

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was one of the first to pledge backing for US efforts.

The Pakistani leader, General Pervez Musharraf, has also offered full support, but he has faced considerable opposition at home from those opposed to any US military action.

Pakistan and Iran have agreed to open their borders to receive refugees from Afghanistan in the event of strikes by American-led forces.

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

(click here to return)
President George W. Bush
"The Taleban will pay the price"
Osama bin Laden
"Every Muslim should support his religion"
The BBC's Humphrey Hawksley
"The targets thought to be anti-aircraft positions and Taleban command bunkers"
The BBC's John Simpson
reports from within Afghanistan
See also:

07 Oct 01 | South Asia
Bin Laden warns US
07 Oct 01 | Americas
Timeline: Afghanistan air strikes
18 Sep 01 | South Asia
Who is Osama Bin Laden?
20 Sep 01 | Americas
What is terrorism?
20 Sep 01 | Americas
The trail to Bin Laden
19 Sep 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
20 Sep 01 | Americas
Powell's challenge
07 Oct 01 | South Asia
Military strikes: Key quotes
18 Sep 01 | South Asia
Profile: Mullah Mohammed Omar
20 Sep 01 | Americas
Cheney: Power behind the throne
20 Sep 01 | Americas
Profile: Donald Rumsfeld
05 Oct 01 | Americas
The investigation and the evidence
25 Sep 01 | Americas
Guide to military strength
07 Oct 01 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Effect of the attacks
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