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U.S. targets Taliban troop garrisons, barracks

Afghans look at debris of a destroyed house in Kabul, Afghanistan, after heavy strikes Wednesday.  

(CNN) -- With all known surface-to-air missile sites destroyed in Afghanistan, U.S. forces focused their bombardment on Taliban troop garrisons and barracks across Afghanistan late Wednesday and early Thursday. (Full story)

U.S. Navy planes, flying from carriers in the Indian Ocean, have begun patrolling specified "kill boxes," or what the Pentagon describes more precisely as "engagement zones," regions of Afghanistan U.S. planners have determined to be hostile areas.

"We have attacked all of the fixed air defense sites that we have found to date," said Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem, deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We are now looking at those other military instruments, if you will, those other military articles, to attack to help bring down the Taliban's power."

In an engagement zone, mission pilots do not have pre-planned targets to hit, but are given commands while in the air from forward air controllers about targets such as convoys of Taliban vehicles or other military equipment to hit.

The United States also broadcast radio messages into Afghanistan from U.S. Air Force aircraft.

"Attention Taliban, you are condemned. Did you know that? The instant the terrorists you support took over our planes, you sentenced yourselves to death. The Armed Forces of the United States are here to seek justice for our dead," one translated message said, according to a Pentagon transcript.

"Our helicopters will rain fire down upon your camps before you detect them on your radar. Our bombs are so accurate we can drop them right through your windows," the message continued. (Full story)

Latest developments

• Earlier Wednesday, U.S. warplanes bombed front-line Taliban positions north of the capital, Kabul.

CNN Correspondent Matthew Chance, reporting from a former Soviet air base about two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Taliban front lines, said he could see the attack from his vantage.

Wednesday also saw U.S. attacks on the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. CNN sources said the Vice and Virtue Ministry building in Kandahar was hit, as well as some populated areas.

• In Washington, President Bush -- citing the "security interests of the United States" -- directed the release of $50 million to Pakistan.

It was the second time in recent weeks that the White House has released money to Pakistan, bringing the total to $100 million.

Pakistan's government has pledged to aid the U.S. war on terrorism, despite opposition from many among its Muslim population.

• Taliban sources said 15 to 20 people were killed or injured when a bus carrying civilians was hit in the airstrikes near the city of Arghandab, outside of Kandahar. Taliban officials allowed a CNN crew to go to the site, but the crew could not independently confirm the death toll or if the bus was carrying civilians.

• The International Committee of the Red Cross has formally complained to the United States over the bombing of one of its warehouses in Kabul. The Pentagon has admitted that it mistakenly targeted the warehouse using 1,000 pound precision-guided bombs dropped from a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet. But sources at the British Defense Ministry said Wednesday said that the compound was targeted because it had Taliban guards and military equipment. (Full story)

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh address terrorism, Pakistan and more (October 17)

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CNN's Chris Burns reports the estimated 10 million landmines planted across Afghanistan during years of conflict claim victims daily (October 17)

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CNN Exclusive: Nic Robertson reports from Jalalabad under escort from the Taliban

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• President Bush left for China on Wednesday to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Shanghai. Before taking off from Travis Air Force Base in California, Bush told military personnel of his plans for the forum: "Of course, we'll talk about economics and trade. But the main thing that will be on my mind is to continue to rally the world against terrorists." (Full story)

• In an interview with Asian editors, Bush predicted "people are going to get tired of the war on terrorism," but he promised to press on even if public support wavers "because I think it's the right thing to do. That's what I am supposed to do." The interview was conducted Tuesday. A transcript was released Wednesday. (Full story)

• The executive director of the World Food Program told reporters Wednesday that the Taliban has seized warehouses belonging to the relief agency in Kabul and Kandahar. The warehouses contain more than half of the agency's wheat supply destined for relief efforts in Afghanistan.

• The USS Kitty Hawk is now fully loaded with helicopters and Special Operations forces, a top Defense official told CNN Wednesday. The Kitty Hawk was sent to the Arabian Sea from Japan in September minus its full complement of aircraft. (Full story)

• U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has told his Indian counterpart that the American-led fight against terrorism includes all terrorism, including that faced by India. "The United States and India stand united against terrorism and that includes terrorism directed against India as well," Powell said. (Full story)

• Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil told CNN Wednesday that there is no split in the Taliban leadership. In recent days there had been reports that moderates in the Taliban government led by Muttawakil had offered to negotiate the surrender of Osama bin Laden if the United States would halt its bombing.

• The former king of Afghanistan is actively working to create a provisional government that will step in should the ruling Taliban be ousted from power, an envoy to the king tells CNN. "In order to avoid any possibility of a void or a vacuum, we want to decide on establishing a supreme council which will provisionally take over if there is a need for it," Hadayat Amin Arsala, envoy to 86-year-old former King Mohammed Zahir Shah, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. (Full story)

• In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canadian naval forces were deployed in support of the U.S.-led coalition against terror. Prime Minister Jean Chretien and other dignitaries were on hand as the ships set sail for the Arabian Sea. The Candadian forces are expected to perform support roles and not engage in combat. (Full story)

• The U.S. House of Representatives will close for five days in the wake of 31 people testing positive for anthrax exposure in a senator's office, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Wednesday. The House will reopen Tuesday after a complete security sweep. (Full story)

• More than $1 billion has been raised for the relief effort from the September 11 attacks, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Red Cross has received the most money -- about $452 million. (Full story)

• Two of the hijackers believed to have steered airliners into the towers of the World Trade Center left a stalled twin-engine aircraft on the taxiway of Miami International Airport last Christmas, the head of their aviation school said. (Full story)

• In a signal of growing cooperation with the Bush administration on its campaign against Afghanistan, Iran has told the United States it will rescue U.S. military personnel in trouble in Iranian territory. (Full story)

• CNN has learned that Australia will send troops to join the coalition forces attacking the Taliban. Australian Prime Minister John Howard will send 1,500 troops, aircraft and naval vessels to assist in the military action.

• The numbers from the recovery effort at the World Trade Center site in New York, as of Tuesday afternoon: 4,613 people missing; 456 bodies recovered; 404 bodies identified; 5,017 total victims.

• Pakistan said on Wednesday that it had put its armed forces on high alert, claiming that it had detected Indian troop movements near its shared border. (Full story)


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