US Launches Heaviest Day-Time Strikes on Afghanistan Monday

Published October 15th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

US warplanes Monday mounted their heaviest daytime raids on Kabul since air strikes began last week, an AFP reporter said, with one villager reported to have died near the eastern city of Jalalabad. 

Wave after wave of jets passed high overhead and at least 10 large explosions were heard around the capital, which has now been under attack by the world's most powerful military machine for eight days and nights. 

Al Jazeera satellite channel said that attacks on Kabul stopped at around 9.00 GMT. 

The jets first appeared over Kabul about 6:15 am (0145 GMT) and the first explosion occurred less than 30 minutes later, the reporter said. 

A second explosion was heard about 9:20 am, two more between 10:00 am and 11:30 am, another two near the battered airport around 12:30 pm and four more were heard somewhere in the city just after 2:00 pm. 

With each new raid Taliban anti-aircraft gunners opened fire. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, but a large cloud of dust could be seen near the airport, said the agency. 

Two bombs fell on "villages" in eastern Nangarhar province, killing one civilian and injuring five others, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported. 

"Today around 11:00 am American planes dropped bombs at Garekhil and Morgai villages in Agaam district which injured six people," Jalalabad deputy governor Maulvi Sedar Azam told AIP.  

Quoting its own unnamed sources, AIP said one of the injured people died on the way to hospital in Agaam, 35 kilometers (21 miles) south of Jalalabad city. 

It said the Taliban's southern stronghold of Kandahar also came under daylight air raids, but there were no details. 

After attacks last week -- which were concentrated on the airport just outside the city -- US jets now appear to be aiming at Taliban military bases, many of which are within the city and close to residential areas. 

The US admitted on Thursday that a missile went astray and fell on a residential area killing four civilians. 

The post-dawn air assault on Kabul started about five hours after US warplanes ended a night attack which residents said resulted in at least seven explosions. 

Residents said Taliban anti-aircraft fire was much heavier during the daylight attack on Monday than during the earlier night attack. 

US-led forces -- which began their air assualt on Afghanistan on the night of October 7 -- also staged daytime raids on the eastern city of Jalalabad. 

At least ten explosions were heard on the outskirts of the city, with the bombing starting around 8:30 am. 

"Two bombs were dropped at our military headquarters east of Jalalabad airport, Taliban culture and information ministry official Haji Attiqullah Azizi told AFP. 

Azizi gave no details of damage or casualties. 

The relentless attacks came as Washington rejected a new offer from the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden to a neutral country. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Colin Powell headed for Pakistan to shore up support for the allied campaign.  

Taliban had by its offer rejected “a second chance” given by US President George W. Bush Thursday to hand over Osama Bin Laden, a suspected terrorist, and his lieutenants.  

The Taliban chief’s offer came in an interview with the Saudi Al Watan newspaper. “This is non-negotiable,” he said.  

Returning to the White House after a weekend at Camp David, Bush said the bombing would not stop unless the ruling Taliban meet his terms, according to AP.  

 

 

STOCK MARKET SHAKY, GERM WARFARE FEARS SPREAD  

 

As non-stop strikes to dislodge bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network from Taliban-protected bases continued, stock markets faced the prospect of shaky starts Monday in the face of war talk from Al Qaeda and threats of germ warfare.  

US Attorney General John Ashcroft told CBS television Sunday that he did not rule out the possibility of a connection between bin Laden and 10 confirmed cases of anthrax in the United States.  

Later, two new cases appeared, sending the country into more alarm over the possibility of a germ war, which has also reached Australia.  

TV reports said that part of Sydney airport was cordoned off to check three boxes of suspected powder, similar to that found in letters sent to US media institutions. At least one of them tested positive for anthrax.  

Fears of bioterrorism spread to Europe as England's historic Canterbury Cathedral was evacuated after a man was seen to drop white powder in a chapel.  

"When police arrived (the man) could not be found," a police spokeswoman said. "We are actively searching for him."  

Firefighters wearing chemical protection suits were attempting to clear up the powder and taking samples for analysis, and the spokeswoman said it was "still too early to say exactly what the powder is."  

 

PROTESTS CONTINUE, VIOLENCE REPORTED  

 

One person was killed and 24 were wounded as police fought gunbattles with up to 4,000 Muslim hardliners in the southern Pakistani town of Jacobabad, said reports.  

During the night, two Pakistani policemen were killed by unidentified gunmen in Karachi.  

Police said they arrested 400 people who converged on the town in Sindh province for a rally and a march on a nearby air base that Islamabad has put at US disposal for logistic support.  

Pakistani popular support for the Taliban - despite President Pervez Musharraf's backing of the US anti-terror campaign - was highlighted in a public opinion poll scheduled to appear in Monday's edition of Newsweek magazine.  

The survey shows only 12 percent of Pakistanis blame bin Laden for the September 11 attacks, while 48 percent believe they were carried out by Israel; 83 percent say they sympathize with the Taliban.  

Meanwhile, in Nigeria's troubled Muslim-majority north Kano, the official death toll in two days of riots sparked by a protest against the air strikes rose to at least 13, with many residents predicting a much higher figure.  

In other demonstrations Sunday:  

- More than 2,000 Nepalese leftists took to the streets of Kathmandu, warning that the air strikes could lead to World War III.  

- Police in Jakarta arrested 27 people out of a group of 65 detained at a train station as they arrived for an anti-US rally in posession of knives, swords and slingshots.  

- Truncheon-wielding Turkish police broke up a left-wing demonstration by about 500 people in Istanbul, arresting 44.  

- More than 30,000 people in Perugia, Italy, took part in a traditional peace march, dominated this year by opposition to the bombing of Afghanistan.  

- Also in Italy, 500 Muslims immigrants protested in Turin against US military action and heard religious leaders proclaim bin Laden innocent in the September 11 attacks.  

The demonstrations in Europe came in the wake of peaceful protest rallies Saturday in close US allies Britain, Germany and France, as well as in Switzerland.  

 

POWELL HEADS TO ISLAMABAD UNDER TIGHT SECURITY  

 

US Secretary of State Powell headed for Pakistan and India on Sunday to try to cool passions between the nuclear-armed regional rivals that have been further heightened by the US-British bombing campaign in Afghanistan, according to agencies.  

Although his schedule was being kept secret, Powell was expected to be in Islamabad on Monday and visit New Delhi before setting off for talks with counterparts from 20 other countries at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering in Shanghai, China October 17 and 18.  

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told reporters that Powell would discuss the shape of a future Afghan government with Pakistan's rulers.  

Islamist groups in Pakistan have called for a general strike to protest the attacks and Powell’s visit. But the Pakistanis’ response was not totally positive, according to Al Jazeera correspondent.  

In the meanwhile, the foreign minister of the North Alliance opposition forces in Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, told Al Jazeera satellite channel Sunday that Taliban’s offer to the alliance to join them in their fight against the US was rejected, adding that hundreds of Taliban troops were joining the opposition in the north.  

The Northern Alliance seeks to play a key part in the political future of Afghanistan, which has not seen peace since well before the Soviet invasion in 1979.  

The official told reporters that the United States did not want to tell Afghans how to run their country, but that history showed they did best in a loose federation with a high degree of local autonomy.  

According to Reuters, citing a US official, President Bush has begun to plan for dealing with a future Afghanistan government if the Taliban regime should fall under US-led attacks – Albawaba.com 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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