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Thursday, 11 October, 2001, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
'Heavy losses' as US hits harder
US warplane
The US says it now has air superiority
The United States has launched its biggest attack so far on the Afghan capital, Kabul, dropping "bunker-busting" bombs for the first time.

US B2 bomber
The US has started dropping bunker busting bombs

The Taleban said there had been a "large number of casualties" around the country, but it was impossible to verify the claim.

A Taleban official in the eastern city of Jalalabad was quoted as saying that more than 100 people had been killed, but that report was also unconfirmed.

Witnesses described the air raids on Kabul as the most intense military bombardment since the campaign started on Sunday.

Ground forces

Loud explosions shook the city as jets screamed overhead and anti-aircraft fire blazed from Taleban guns.

American warplanes are reported to have begun using 5,000lb "bunker busting" bombs, which could mark the start of the next phase in the allies' campaign.

This new stage could also involve the use of ground troops and special forces, the BBC Washington correspondent says.

Pakistani officials said American personnel were on the ground in Pakistan.

But they stressed that they were not combat forces and would not use Pakistani territory to launch attacks inside Afghanistan.

Pakistan is allowing the Americans to use two air bases, but only for logistics and support operations.

'Mosque hit'

A Taleban official said a mosque had been destroyed in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

Taleban Education Minister Amir Khan Mutaqqi said he did not know if people had been killed inside the mosque.

But he was quoted as saying that there had been many casualties in different parts of Afghanistan.

Among them, he said, were 10 members of the same family, killed when a missile hit their house in Kabul.

'Populated areas bombed'

Heavy air strikes also hit the southern city of Kandahar, where the Taleban headquarters is located.

A local Taleban commander said 15 people were killed.

Refugees from the area arriving at the Pakistani border were also quoted as saying civilians had been killed and some bombs had hit populated areas.

Several Taleban leaders were killed on the first night of US and British attacks, a senior US official was quoted as saying.

Two men related to Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar were among those killed, the official said.

Our whole family spends the night in a room with only one window, which we block with bedding to stop the shrapnel

Kabul resident

The anti-Taleban Northern Alliance claimed that it had advanced in the central province of Ghor, but the Taleban said they had repelled a rebel assault there. Neither claim could be verified.

US warplanes dropped at least one 5,000lb bomb - known as a GBU-28 - designed to destroy reinforced or underground command centres.

In other developments:

  • US President George W Bush unveils a list of 22 suspects he describes as "the most dangerous terrorists in the world"
  • US television executives agree to "exercise judgement" in broadcasting statements by Bin Laden and his associates after the US Government warned that they may include coded incitements to violence
  • Another US domestic flight is diverted after passenger causes scare
  • The US State Department tells US embassies to stock up on antibiotics in case of anthrax attacks
  • UK Prime Minister Tony Blair holds talks with Sultan Qaboos of Oman and visits British troops at the start of a three-day visit to the Middle East
  • Pakistan decides to allow US forces to use at least two of its airports during the ongoing military operation
  • Muslim leaders warn the US-led alliance not to extend the anti-terrorism strikes to other Muslim or Arab countries
  • French journalist Michel Peyrard and his two Pakistani guides are charged by the Taleban with spying
  • Pakistan warns it will deport Afghan refugees involved in increasingly violent pro-Taleban demonstrations.

A huge blaze was reported near Kabul airport on Wednesday night and a military academy east of the capital was reportedly hit.

Taleban gunners opened fire from at least three positions near the city centre.


Launch new window : Detailed map
Click here for a detailed map of the strikes so far
And the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press reported explosions in Shamshaad, a Taleban military base east of Jalalabad, near the Pakistan border.

"This is the worst night that we have had so far ... I cannot tell you how frightened people are," one Kabul resident said.

US officials said that the military may use low-flying helicopters to hunt followers of Bin Laden, although they said this was not imminent.

GBU-28 "bunker busting" bomb
Developed during the Gulf War
Its characteristics are a classified secret
An improved guidance version was made two years ago

This would be potentially risky - the Taleban are believed to still have shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles which they used to down Soviet helicopters in the past.

But officials in Washington say their forces control the skies, and daylight strikes began on Tuesday.

Speculation that the US will widen its campaign on terrorism to other nations, however, has been quashed by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who said America had no such immediate plans.

Launch new window : Military glossary
Guide to the military hardware being used
The US-led military campaign is aimed at neutralising Bin Laden - accused of organising the 11 September attacks on the US - and the Taleban, who are sheltering him.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Loyn
"The Taleban say that a mosque has been hit"
The BBC's Ben Brown
"The capital Kabul has again been hit"
Defence analyst Paul Beaver
"The Americans are not talking about the stage after next"
See also:

11 Oct 01 | South Asia
Plain sailing for US air force
09 Oct 01 | South Asia
Fears of Afghan food crisis
09 Oct 01 | Americas
Bush's military countdown
10 Oct 01 | Middle East
Muslim states seek to stem backlash
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