U.S. Raids Continue to Pound Kabul
Today’s raids, carried out during the day as well as at night, struck Kabul airport and suspected military targets in the northwestern part of the city, according to the Associated Press.
Reuters reports the daylight attacks appeared to be the heaviest yet in the nine-day bombing and missile campaign. A Reuters reporter said one bomb hit a northern suburb of Kabul and several more fell at five-minute intervals at military bases in the city’s northern region.
The news agency says Kabul was without power last night, and that one of the city’s two international telephone exchanges was destroyed in Sunday’s strikes.
Various news reports also say the cities of Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar have also been targeted.
Among the targets that may have been struck is an alleged Osama bin Laden training camp near Tora-Bora, news agencies report. Bin Laden had lived at the camp for a time after he returned to Afghanistan in 1996.
Taliban information ministry official Abdul Hanan Himat told Reuters that there was an overnight attack on the capital of the northern Badghis province.
“They hit the center of town and it was after midnight,” he said. “Twelve people were killed and 32 wounded when U.S. planes dropped bombs on Qala-inau,” he said.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said today some reports out of Afghanistan describing casualty numbers in the hundreds were “ridiculous,” adding that some of the Taliban’s leaders are “accomplished liars.”
He acknowledged that some Afghan civilians have been unintended casualties in the strikes.
“We’re working to make clear to the Afghan people that we support them and we want to help free their nation from the grip of the Taliban and their foreign terrorist allies,” Rumsfeld told reporters.
According to the British government, 60 targets in Afghanistan were hit during the first week of U.S. and British air strikes, Reuters reports.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers said the U.S. struck 17 target areas on Saturday, including “terrorist camps, military training facilities, air fields, air defenses and command and control facilities.”
He said strikes on Sunday hit seven targets, including Taliban troop staging areas.
The continued attacks come as President Bush yesterday rejected the Taliban’s offer to turn bin Laden over to a neutral third country if the U.S. provides proof of his involvement.
“They must not have heard. There’s no negotiations,” Mr. Bush said. All the Taliban has to do, he said, is “turn him over, and his colleagues and the thugs he hides, as well as destroy his camps and [release] the innocent people being held hostage in Afghanistan.”
The final part of the president’s message referred to eight foreign aid workers who have been imprisoned in Afghanistan since early August. The aid workers were allegedly spreading Christianity, a serious crime in the eyes of the Islamic extremist Taliban regime.
Also today, the president met with Berlusconi to further discuss Italy’s role in the coming months.
At a joint press conference, Berlusconi said he will “be with you in this fight against terrorism… It will be a long fight, but I’m sure that we’ll win…by substituting fear with courage.”