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Taliban will ‘pay a price,’ Bush vows

Almost one month after terrorists launched an unprecedented attack against the United States, American forces strike back in an aerial assault aimed at the Taliban.

Monday, October 08, 2001

Almost one month after terrorists launched an unprecedented attack against the United States, American forces strike back in an aerial assault aimed at the Taliban.

Sunday afternoon, at 12:30 p.m. EDT, or 9 p.m. Kabul time, U.S. and British forces launched attacks against several targets held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The forces launched 50 cruise missiles from 15 bombers and 25 strike aircraft, both sea and land-based against selected targets. France, Germany, Australia and Canada lent aid to the U.S. and British attacks by providing both intelligence and logistical support.

According to reports from the Associated Press, five blasts followed by the sounds of anti-aircraft fire were heard in that country’s capital. Electricity was shut off throughout the city for more than two hours afterward.

The southern Afghan city of Kandahar, headquarters of the Taliban and home of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, was also hit and the airport control tower was damaged, a Taliban source said by telephone. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said several explosions occurred in the eastern city of Jalalabad but he did not have further details.

Without citing sources, Qatar’s Al-Jazeera television said the strikes destroyed the Taliban headquarters in Kandahar. Al-Jazeera is often one of the first sources of information on bin Laden.

President Bush, speaking from the White House Treaty Room, said "On my order, U.S. forces have begun strikes on terrorist camps of al Qaeda, and the military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan."

"We are supported by the collective will of the world," Bush said. He added that the action was a "carefully targeted," attack and was aimed at cutting "the military capability of the Taliban regime." Pentagon officials said Sunday afternoon that United States aircraft based on nearby aircraft carriers participated in the strike, as did a British submarine, which launched cruise missiles at several command and control facilities near Kabul and Kandahar, the spiritual center of the Taliban government.

Bush turned to the media about 25 minutes after the attack was launched. After that, the President was whisked away by Secret Service and was separated by the Vice President in a security measure that is standard to protective the executive branch of the U.S. government.

Early U.S. aims, Bush said, will be to pick apart the al Qaeda network,

whose bases dot Afghanistan’s forbidding central and northern mountain

ranges, and to disable the military machine of the Taliban, which is engaged

in an ongoing struggle against rebel groups in the north of the country.

"By destroying camps and disrupting communications, we will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans," Bush said.

"Initially the terrorists may burrow deeper into caves and other entrenched hiding places," he continued. "Our military action is also designed to clear the way for sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them out and bring them to justice."

Bush said the attack launched on Sunday was just one component of the "campaign against terrorism."

The country’s ruling Taliban militia declared the assault a ”terrorist attack” and said Osama bin Laden and the Taliban’s leader had survived.

In Pakistan, Taliban ambassador Abdul Salam Zaeef told reporters that bin Laden, the main suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks, and Mullah Omar confirmed bin Laden survived.

”By the grace of God, Mullah Omar and bin Laden are alive,” Zaeef said. He did not elaborate and did not say whether either leader was near the scene of the Sunday attacks.

In a clear warning to states that may be regularly involved in sponsorship of terrorist activity across the globe, Bush said action in Afghanistan was only ‘phase one’ of the allied military campaign.

"Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader. Every nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground. If any

government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocence, they have become outlaws and murderers themselves," he said. "And they will take that lonely path at their own peril."

CNN reports and the Associated Press contributed to this article.