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Monday, 8 October, 2001, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
US declares strikes 'success'
Kabul resident Mohammed Ibrahim (l) looks at remains of destroyed home (AP)
Kabul residents salvage belongings from a destroyed house
The United States has declared its air assault on Afghanistan on Sunday a great success, but warned it was only the opening salvo of a war against terrorism that could last for years.

President George W Bush said the operation was "executed as planned". But he added that it would be "a long war, that requires understanding and patience from the American people".

US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld said US and British forces had struck military aircraft, runways, missile launchers and "terrorist training camps" in Afghanistan.

This action is not only against Afghanistan, but this is a terrorist attack on the whole Muslim world

Taleban ambassador in Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef
"All the aircraft returned safely, the humanitarian food and medicine drops were successful... so we feel that thus far it has been a very successful effort," Mr Rumsfeld said in an interview on US television.

In a separate development, the US has called a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, scheduled for 2100 GMT.

A letter submitted by Washington to the council on Sunday warned that the US could take action against other countries and organisations after the strikes on Afghanistan.

Mr Rumsfeld dismissed allegations by Afghanistan's Taleban rulers that civilians had been killed in Sunday night's strikes as "typical lies".

Earlier the Taleban said there were about 20 casualties in Kabul, 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".

Independent reports from Kabul have not confirmed the death toll, but bombs are said to have landed in a residential area in the centre of the city.

US warplanes launched from carriers in the Gulf
Many Kabul residents are reported to be fleeing the area, but reports say some shops and schools opened as usual on Monday.

Some reports from the city quote residents expressing relief at the lack of civilian casualties.

UK Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said the strikes were directed at 30 targets in Afghanistan mainly away from the civilian population.

Mr Hoon said three of the targets had been in or near Kabul, four by other populated areas, and 23 in remote areas with no civilian targets. The damage from the strikes was still being assessed, he said.

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

In other developments:

  • Captured British journalist Yvonne Ridley is reported to have been released by the Taleban and is on her way to the border
  • In Gaza City, Palestinian police shoot dead three demonstrators at a rally in support of Osama Bin Laden and two police stations reported sacked by protesters
  • 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
  • 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

October 7: US and UK hit 30 targets; 3 in Kabul, 4 in other towns, and 23 in rural areas, according to MOD.

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.

The action followed warnings from US officials that time was running out for the Taleban to hand over 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 Konduz 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 are 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 Adam Mynott
says there is an air of tension in Afghanistan as the night closes in
The BBC's Peter Biles
reports unanimous support in the US for the air strikes
See also:

08 Oct 01 | South Asia
Musharraf firm as protests erupt
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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