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New airstrikes hit Afghanistan

Kabul explosions
A nightscope view of attacks on Kabul, Afghanistan, from the north  


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A second wave of U.S. and British air attacks was launched after nightfall Monday, striking at Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan, as well as the capital of Kabul.

Power went out and anti-aircraft fire could be heard in Kandahar. A short time later several explosions were heard.

Shariat Radio in Kabul went off the air, and electricity was cut there as well, CNN's Kamal Hyder reported.

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirmed a new wave of attacks had begun.

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CNN's Matthew Chance has more from the front lines in northern Afghanistan (October 8)

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"Based on our early assessments, we believe we've made progress toward eliminating the air defense sites around the country," Rumsfeld said.

But he added that he could not say for certain that the command and control centers targeted had been destroyed. He said bombers and Tomahawk missiles were being used in the latest round.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said 31 targets were hit in the first wave. "We did disrupt the activities of the Taliban regime," Myers said.

Myers said that 37,000 meals ready to eat were dropped Sunday night into Monday and a similar amount would be dropped Tuesday night.

Rumsfeld said that President Bush had announced a $320 million aid program for Afghanistan and wanted it to start immediately.

Neither Rumsfeld nor Myers would comment on the latest round of targets. Myers said the Taliban do have surface-to-air missiles, and several had been fired. The Taliban do have some jet aircraft, but Myers said there had been no air-to-air engagements yet.

In addition, the United States and Britain notified the U.N. Security Council of the U.S. military campaign and said the United States reserved the right to strike targets outside Afghanistan in its war on terrorism.

Sources in Kandahar told CNN that Taliban officials had decided not to take on the overwhelming allied force directly but to battle the allied effort as a guerrilla war.

The new strikes came just hours after U.S. officials said Monday that Sunday's military strikes against the Taliban and the al Qaeda terrorist network have been "very successful."

But the Taliban said Monday that suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden is still alive and branded the U.S.-British attacks as terrorism.

On the ground in Kabul, Taysseer Allooni, a correspondent for the Qatari news channel al Jazeera, said that missiles had hit one radar installation, destroying two of three antennas.

Allooni said he believed Kabul's air defenses had been damaged because the final attack before dawn was intense with aircraft flying low over the city.

He said explosions went off near a military hospital, injuring at least six people.

Asked about civilian casualties, Allooni said, "I haven't seen anything with my own eyes, but eyewitnesses here say there were some civilians injured, and some dead, and also military dead, but it is assumed that the military dead were more in number."

The Taliban claimed to have downed a number of coalition planes, but Rumsfeld said no planes were lost and the Taliban claims were "untrue."

While U.S. and British officials said the campaign would be a long one, Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, said he hoped it would be short and there were anti-American demonstrations in a number of Pakistani cities.



 
 
 
 



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