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Sunday, 14 October, 2001, 03:21 GMT 04:21 UK
Fresh US raids follow bombing error
F14 launching from USS Enterprise
The US says the air strikes are succeeding
The United States has carried out a seventh night of air strikes on Afghanistan after Pentagon officials admitted a targeting mistake led to a bomb being dropped on a residential area of the capital, Kabul.

The bomb was meant to hit a helicopter at Kabul airport, but a wrongly entered digit in the bomb's global positioning system meant it missed its target by a mile.

The Defence Department regretted any loss of life.

Afghans load their belongings on to a truck after their village was hit by an American bomb
Many Afghans have fled their homes because of the bombing
"We have no accurate way of estimating the number of casualties, but reports from the ground indicate there may have been four deaths and eight injured," a Pentagon statement said.

In the latest air raids, Kabul airport, the military academy and an artillery base were among the reported targets.

Witnesses said warplanes dropped three bombs on Kabul, rocking the city with huge explosions and creating a fireball over the airport.

Military positions around the city of Jalalabad and a Taleban military camp in Kandahar also came under attack, and strikes were reported on an airport near the western city of Herat.

Reuters news agency quotes US military officials as saying that pilots are increasingly going after "targets of opportunity" that they spot from the air, such as parked aircraft or troop convoys.

Click here for a map of recent air strikes

The ruling Taleban in Afghanistan - who are sheltering Osama Bin Laden, accused of masterminding last month's devastating terror attacks on the US - say at least 300 civilians have been killed in the strikes, but only five deaths have been independently confirmed so far.

The rebel Northern Alliance in Afghanistan say the US strikes have crippled the Taleban's fighting ability.

"They have lost their capacity to launch counter-offensives," said the Alliance's Foreign Minister, Abdullah Abdullah.

Northern Alliance guns
The Northern Alliance will need help if they are to oust the Taleban
But the BBC's Afghanistan correspondent, Kate Clark, reports that in practice, Alliance commanders admit they need America to attack Taleban front-line positions if they are to have any hope of capturing Kabul, which they lost to the Taleban six years ago.

In his weekly radio address, President George W Bush declared the first phase of the military campaign against Bin Laden a success, saying a week of bombing had disrupted "the terrorist network inside Afghanistan".

"American forces dominate the skies over Afghanistan and we will use that dominance to make sure terrorists can no longer freely use Afghanistan as a base of operations," President Bush said.

The Taleban have rejected a "last chance" to surrender Bin Laden that was offered by President Bush at a White House news conference on Thursday.

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported the reclusive Taleban leader Mullah Omar as saying in a message: "Our sin is that we have imposed an Islamic system in our country and have given protection to a homeless Muslim, oppressed, who cannot even find a place in any part of the world to sit for an hour."





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Click here for a detailed map of the strikes so far

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 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Ben Brown
"The Americans have made a mistake - and they are admitting it"
John Gearson, Kings College London
"The Americans are attacking when targets present themselves"
See also:

13 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
US and Uzbekistan agree pact
12 Oct 01 | South Asia
Fear and defiance inside Afghanistan
14 Oct 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Warriors on land and sea
11 Oct 01 | Americas
Analysis: Washington's next phase
11 Oct 01 | South Asia
Mapping Afghanistan's political future
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