Afghanistan wakes after night of intense bombings
(CNN) -- Daylight broke over Afghanistan Monday after hours of intense bombing by U.S. and British forces overnight, the first strikes in an international campaign to flush out suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and punish those who have protected him.
The attacks against the ruling Taliban came almost a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and heavily damaged the Pentagon.
The first strikes began about 8:45 p.m. Sunday (12:15 p.m. EDT) and targeted the Taliban's air defense installations, defense ministry, airport-based command centers, airfields, electrical grids and other energy production facilities.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said about 15 land-based bombers, 25 strike aircraft and U.S. and British ships and submarines fired about 50 Tomahawk missiles against terrorist targets. (Full story)
There was no immediate news on damage assessment. The Pentagon is expected to use spy planes and surveillance satellites to help gauge the success of its first night of bombing.
CNN's Kamal Hyder, reporting from inside Afghanistan, said four waves of U.S.-British attacks struck at the heart of the southern city of Kandahar. The strikes came about every one to 1.5 hours, he said.
A senior Taliban official said the regime's command system and radar system at the Kandahar airport was destroyed.
CNN's Chris Burns in northern Afghanistan said "bright flashes of light, one after another" hit the region for six hours, from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. local time. The opposition Northern Alliance also fired rockets at Taliban front lines, Burns said.
Northern Alliance commanders, citing the opposition group's intelligence sources inside Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan, said U.S. and British forces struck at least seven locations, including the airports in Kandahar and Kabul and the Taliban Ministry of Defense in Kabul. Power was knocked out in the Afghan capital.
Other targets were Jalalabad in the east and Mazar-e-Sharif and other towns in the north, including the Taliban stronghold of Konduz.
"From the feedback which we have had so far, the targets have been hit accurately in Kabul, Kandahar and especially in Mazar-e-Sharif," said Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who is the North Alliance's equivalent of a foreign minister.
Pentagon officials said Sunday the strikes in Afghanistan could continue for several days as the United States and Britain try to soften Taliban air defenses and damage key military infrastructure.
President Bush said in a national address the military action was "carefully targeted," and said its aim was to "cut the military capability of the Taliban regime."
Bush said the action was taken after the Taliban refused to meet several non-negotiable American demands. (Full story)
"More than two weeks ago, I gave Taliban leaders a series of clear and specific demands: Close terrorist training camps. Hand over leaders of the al Qaeda network, and return all foreign nationals, including American citizens unjustly detained in your country," Bush said.
"None of these demands was met, and now, the Taliban will pay a price," Bush said. (Transcript)
Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef said, "These brutal attacks are as horrendous terrorist acts as any in the world. America has always chosen the military approach ... the Afghans will rise against the new colonialist." (Full story)
Witnesses in Kandahar told CNN at least three explosions rocked the city and power was out. Explosions were also reported in Afghanistan's capital Kabul and in Jalalabad near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. (Map)
CNN's Kamal Hyder reported a huge explosion at an oil depot at the Herat airport in western Afghanistan, most likely a result of the airstrikes. (Full story)
In a videotaped statement given to the Qatar-based satellite network al Jazeera and broadcast Sunday, bin Laden said the U.S. and British strikes were a way to "fight Islam with the name of fighting terrorism." Bin Laden also said the September 11 attacks were "giving them back what they deserve" for U.S. support of Israel and sanctions against Iraq. (Transcript)
Israel offered its support Sunday to the U.S.-led military strikes on Afghanistan, praising President Bush for a "brave decision." (Full story)
The FBI urged law enforcement agencies across the country Sunday to be on high alert following the strikes. It said the warning was a precaution and there had not been any specific threat. The Coast Guard and other federal law enforcement agencies have also taken precautions. (Full story)
Two C-17 aircraft flew from Ramstein, Germany, and dropped emergency rations as a humanitarian relief effort over Afghanistan. They finished their mission and left Afghan airspace early Monday, Pentagon officials said. The airdrops will continue over the next few days, officials said.
European Union leaders strongly supported the U.S.-British strikes on the Taliban. Russia also backed the strikes, saying international terrorism should face justice. (Full story)
Not everyone praised the action in Afghanistan. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said the attacks "were carried out without regard to world public opinion and particularly the Islamic countries. These attacks will result in loss of life among civilians, and, therefore, they are not acceptable." (Full story)
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Vice President Dick Cheney had been moved from the White House complex to a secure but undisclosed location. "Just as three weeks ago, various security steps were taken beyond what is normally done," Fleischer said. "That was done again today."
A senior State Department official said President Bush had asked Secretary of State Colin Powell to travel to India and Pakistan at the end of this week. (Full story)
U.S. Senate and House leaders of both parties issued a statement: "We stand united with the president and with our troops, and will continue to work together to do what is necessary to bring justice to these terrorists and those who harbor them." (Full story)
Organizers of the Emmy Awards program called off Sunday's awards ceremony for the second time in three weeks because of the nation's terrorist crisis, but stopped short of announcing an outright cancellation. "We're not at this point calling it a cancellation, we're looking at all our options," said Bryce Zabel, CEO of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. (Full story)
Several hours after the strikes on Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, which agreed Friday to let the United States use one of its air force bases, had not broadcast news of the attacks.
A few hours before the strikes, President Bush paid tribute at a memorial service Sunday to firefighters killed in the line of duty last year and more than 300 New York City firefighters who perished at the World Trade Center last month. (Full story)
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