Pakistan lodges protest over U.S. missile strikes
Americans brace for retaliation
U.S. officials, calling Thursday's strike a pre-emptive measure, warned that the military action almost certainly would provoke a terrorist response.
An official of the Taliban, Afghanistan's Islamic rulers, says that at least 21 people were killed and 30 injured in the U.S. attacks near Khost on Thursday. All those killed and injured were said to be civilians.
Sudanese officials said at least seven workers at the facility were injured in the missile strikes there.
Unidentified gunmen seriously injured two U.N. workers in the Afghan capital of Kabul Friday, The United Nations confirmed the two men, one French and one Italian, were shot as they drove in Kabul. No other details were available, and it was not immediately clear if the attack was related to the U.S. missile strikes.
Some U.S. airports tightened security immediately, and the Federal Aviation Administration issued an advisory prohibiting domestic carriers from flying over the two countries. Other countries' airlines with code-sharing agreements with U.S. carriers also cannot take passengers with a U.S.-issued ticket over the affected air space as well.
Journalist Kasra Naji comments on the Pakistani missile strike allegations|
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CNN's Brent Sadler reports on the scene in Khartoum Friday
Journalist Kasra Naji reports from Islamabad Pakistan on the reaction of a "senior leader" of the Islamic Taliban
The CIA told senior Clinton administration officials that the prospect of retaliation against Americans overseas was "very, very high." One senior intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "People ought to understand that this is not a one-shot deal. There is a high probability of retaliation."
Residents of other countries had been advised Wednesday to leave Afghanistan. Kabul was reported calm and tense Friday. Its residents will gather later in the day for prayers on the Muslim holy day, and protests could be sparked by fiery sermons.
The State Department urged U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad to remain alert and to exercise much greater caution than they usually would.
The FBI issued a nationwide alert to U.S. law enforcement officials to watch for signs of terrorist action. American cruise missiles pounded sites in Afghanistan and Sudan Thursday in retaliation for the deadly bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7.
|Sudanese television reports much of El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries plant in Sudan has been reduced to rubble|
In an address from the Oval Office after interrupting his vacation to return to Washington, Clinton said he acted to "counter an immediate threat" of more terrorist acts.
"Let our actions today send this message loud and clear -- there are no expendable American targets," U.S. President Clinton said in a televised address to the American people Thursday evening. "There will be no sanctuary for terrorists. We will defend our people, our interests and our values."
U.S. officials say the six sites attacked in Afghanistan were part of a network of terrorist compounds near the Pakistani border that housed supporters of Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden.
In the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, the El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries factory -- which U.S. officials say also has ties to bin Laden and produces chemicals that can be used to make deadly VX nerve gas -- was heavily damaged.
In response, an an angry crowd of demonstrators, chanting "Down, Down, U.S.A." took over the U.S. Embassy building in Khartoum, which had been closed after the August bombings. U.S. diplomats had been pulled out of Sudan in 1996, after the State Department decided it could no longer ensure their safety.
Clinton said that information gathered by American intelligence showed that a network of terrorists affiliated with bin Laden was responsible for the bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which killed 257 people, including 12 Americans.
|Sudanese television reports seven wounded by the U.S. strike|
"Our mission was clear -- to strike at the network of radical groups affiliated with, and funded by, Osama bin Laden, the pre-eminent organizer and financier of international terrorism in the world today," Clinton said.
National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said that American intelligence had also turned up "very specific" information that the bin Laden network was planning additional attacks, which Thursday's missile launches were designed to prevent.
In addition, the United States had information that top leaders of bin Laden's network were to meet in Afghanistan Thursday. Berger said that "influenced our planning" for the attack, which was authorized by the president last Friday.
Bin Laden has been given shelter by Afghanistan's Islamic rulers, the Taliban, and may have been in the area targeted by U.S. missiles. Taliban officials said bin Laden survived the attack, but U.S. officials said they did not know if he survived.
Pentagon sources confirmed to CNN that the attacks were made with Tomahawk cruise missiles, not aircraft. The missiles were fired from U.S. Navy ships in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. The simultaneous attacks took place when it was 7:30 p.m. in Sudan and 10 p.m. in Afghanistan (about 1:30 p.m. EDT).
Sudanese television showed piles of rubble at the Khartoum factory and fire raging in the distance. People were seen walking through the damage, wearing masks.
Sudanese officials reacted angrily to the attacks. Interior Minister Abdul Rahim Mohammed Hussein told CNN in a telephone interview that the privately owned pharmaceutical firm had "nothing to do with chemical weapons."
"We have no chemical weapons factory in our country," he said.
A statement read on Sudanese television about an hour after the attack said "the wrongful American air force launched air attacks on Sudan tonight which aimed at strategic and vital areas."
In Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Taliban, Mullah Abdullah, said the U.S. attacks were in Khost, about 90 miles (144 kilometers) south of the capital, Kabul, and Jalalabad, 60 miles (96 kilometers) east of Kabul.
Clinton called the sites "terrorist facilities" and said they were being used to train terrorists from around the world.
The supreme leader of the Taliban said they would never hand over bin Laden to the United States. A Pakistan-based Afghan news service quoted Mullah Mohammad Omar as condemning U.S. bombings on Afghan sites Thursday and saying that they showed "enmity" for the Afghan people.
However, Clinton defended the decision to launch missiles into the two countries.
"The United States does not take this action lightly. Afghanistan and Sudan have been warned for years to stop harboring and supporting these terrorist groups," he said. "The countries that persistently host terrorists have no right to be safe havens."
A federal grand jury and the FBI field office in New York have been investigating bin Laden's role in at least three terrorist attacks or plots, officials said. They said investigators are trying to determine whether he provided financial backing for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, an aborted plot in New York to bomb bridges and tunnels, and a November 1995 car bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that killed five Americans.
U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said the goal of the strikes was to disrupt and attempt to destroy the suspected training and support facilities used to train "hundreds, if not thousands, of terrorists." ( 1.9 MB / 20 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
"We recognize these strikes will not eliminate the problem," Cohen said. "But our message is clear. There will be no sanctuary for terrorists and no limit to our resolve to defend American citizens and our interests -- our ideals of democracy and law -- against these cowardly attacks."
Cohen said planning for the attack began within the past week, after U.S. intelligence confirmed bin Laden's involvement in the terrorist bombings.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called on the international community to take whatever action was necessary to "deter and defeat terrorist acts."
"Together, decent people everywhere must send the message to terrorists everywhere that they can hide but they cannot escape the long arm of justice," she said.
Clinton also emphasized that the U.S. attack should not be construed as anti-Islam.
"Our actions today were not aimed at Islam," he said. "No religion condones the murder of innocent men, women and children."
In the wake of the missile attacks, the U.S. State Department issued a general warning for U.S. residents abroad to be on alert.
At United Nations headquarters in New York, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson informed the Security Council that the United States acted in self-defense, in accord with the U.N. charter.
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