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Friday, 12 October, 2001, 04:17 GMT 05:17 UK
US planes pound Afghanistan
US Navy Aviation moving a 2,000lb laser-guided bomb
The Taleban accuses the US of targeting civilians
The Afghan capital, Kabul, has come under further attack during the night and into the day as American warplanes launched a series of raids, drawing anti-aircraft fire from Taleban forces.

If you cough him (Bin Laden) up and his people today... we will reconsider what we're doing to your country. You still have a second chance

George W Bush
Several loud explosions could be heard in the east of the city near a Taleban military base, and a huge fireball lit the night-sky to the south of Kabul with a munitions dump reported hit.

The strikes came as the British Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, said the campaign could last into next summer if it did not end rapidly now.

US President George W Bush, in the first primetime news conference of his presidency, added that it could even take a couple of years.
US Navy Sailors in aboard an aircraft carrier
US sailors have a main role in operation Enduring Freedom

But he said that the Taleban would be given a "second chance" if they presented Osama Bin Laden and his "leaders and lieutenants and other thugs and criminals".

Mr Bush said that much had already been achieved in the battle against Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation, its military was being dismantled, and its communications disrupted.

The US earlier denied Taleban claims that it has targeted civilians. The Taleban say more than 140 people had been killed in the last 24 hours.

The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said in any military engagement, there was going to be unintended loss of life and it would happen in this one.

It comes with ill grace for the Taleban to be suggesting that we're doing (targeting civilians) what they have made a practice and a livelihood out of

US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld
He regretted that, but he said that the United States did not target civilians. It was the terrorists, he went on, who had killed thousands of Americans.

He also said the Taleban were still in a position, as he put it, to threaten US aircraft. He pointed out they still had anti-aircraft batteries, stinger and surface-to-air missiles as well as helicopters and planes.

Earlier this week, Mr Rumsfeld had said US and British planes had secured air supremacy.

Daylight raids

The US raids began in daylight with planes flying over Kabul. Huge plumes of smoke were reported in the area of Kabul airport and on the eastern edge of the city.
The Herat Airfield in Afghanistan prior to US air attacks _satellite image
Satellite image show Herat Airfield in Afghanistan before US air attacks

And by night-time, residents said they had heard several more explosions close or within the city, in a sign of another heavy US onslaught.

Blasts were also reports of explosions around the Taleban stronghold of Kandahar to the south.

The Taleban say the US raids have caused many civilian casualties.

The Afghan Islamic Press agency quoted Taleban sources as saying the village of Kouram near Jalalabad had been flattened in an attack on Wednesday.

More than 100 people were feared dead, with 50 bodies recovered so far, a Taleban spokesman said.

These reports are impossible to verify as foreign journalists are barred from entering Taleban-controlled territory. But the Taleban governor of Jalalabad has invited reporters to come and see evidence of civilian casualties.
Satellite image show the Herat airfield
After: Images show the airfield has been hit

An Afghan refugee who left Kabul two days ago and has arrived in the Pakistani city of Peshawar has told the BBC that the air strikes have caused some civilian casualties.

But he said most people found the attacks less dangerous than they expected and were no longer seeking to leave the city.

However, the Associated Press news agency reported that Thursday's air strikes had sent people fleeing in panic.

Launch new window : Military glossary
Guide to the military hardware being used

The US-led military campaign is aimed at targeting Bin Laden - accused of organising the 11 September attacks on the US - and the Taleban, who are sheltering him.

Launch new window : Detailed map
Click here for a detailed map of the strikes so far

With the US-led campaign now past its fifth night, Pentagon officials have given more details of the targets they say have been hit.

Major-General Henry Osman showed a video which he said showed bomb damage on surface-to-air missiles site near Kandahar.

The strikes against the Taleban and Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network have been fairly successful, he said.

"As far as damage to the military equipment, obviously some of the pictures that we showed to you would show that there has been significant damage to some of their military equipment. Have we degradated all of it at this point? Of course not; but we've made some good headway.

"There's no doubt we've disrupted the al-Qaeda network."

He added that the US had also continued to drop packages of daily rations in north Afghanistan.

President Bush said at his news conference on Thursday evening that the US should not abandon Afghanistan once the strikes succeed, but should help it rebuild, with the UN possibly providing a framework.

US President George Bush
"It was an attack on the heart and soul of the civilized world"
See also:

10 Oct 01 | South Asia
Summary of targets so far
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
11 Oct 01 | Americas
New scare diverts US flight
11 Oct 01 | Americas
Analysis: Washington's next phase
11 Oct 01 | South Asia
Mapping Afghanistan's political future
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