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America Strikes Back: Airstrikes Running Out of Targets, Pentagon Says

Aired October 15, 2001 - 06:19   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. investigators may have broken up several bomb plots overseas, we hear. The Associated Press is reporting that U.S. officials working with other governments have disrupted plans to bomb four U.S. diplomatic and military sites. The plots involved attacks on U.S. interests in Paris, Turkey, Yemen and a NATO building in Brussels.

The AP is also reporting the FBI believes several people involved in those people are still on the loose in the U.S. and in Europe.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, to talk more about those plots and other targets and issues at hand as this campaign moves on, we go to the Pentagon now, and Bob Franken is standing by -- good morning, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kyra.

And in spite of the fact that the authorities are saying they're really running out of targets. They're sort of in a clean-up mode. The attacks have continued and are going around the clock, and Kabul has seemed to bear the brunt of the most recent attacks -- Kabul, of course, the capital city of Afghanistan.

You can see some of the fires that are burning in and around Kabul. The main target that was hit was the telecommunications center -- Chinese-built communications center in Kabul, which means that just about all telephone communication becomes a huge problem out of the city.

You can the flames. You can see the outskirts of town as people walk away. The flames do not really show some buildings, although you see some buildings in the foreground there and the mountains in the background. In any case, that was Kabul.

Now, near Jalalabad in another part of the country, there is the village of Koram, and that is a village that the Taliban escorted a group of journalists -- Western journalists there. You see an unexploded bomb in the middle of that village.

Now, the Taliban claim that 200 were killed, although there were no bodies that were shown -- civilian casualties in that area. The U.S. says it is investigating. No body shown -- bodies shown, but some of the villagers say that there were some freshly-marked graves nearby, and that many of the bodies were taken off into the mountains.

But in any case, you can tell that this village near Jalalabad, as I said, had been the target of a bombing campaign. There was a carefully controlled tour that the Taliban took of the Western journalists, who then went back to Pakistan. They did show some young children, who were in a hospital -- some children and some other people, which they claim were victims of the bombing.

As I said, the Pentagon is investigating this. The campaign goes on. Officials are saying that there is planning going on now for the next phase of this, which could involve ground action. But right now it is still to the best of our knowledge an aerial war. I say to the best of our knowledge, Kyra, of course, is because we've been warned all along that we are hardly going to know everything that is going on -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Bob, any word yet about ground forces? We talk about the airstrikes. Is the Pentagon saying anything?

FRANKEN: Nothing at all. All they, of course, is telling us mostly on background, various sources that, in fact, it will rely heavily on special operations, special forces and the like. Much of that will not be visible. In fact, much of it could have been going on without our knowledge.

PHILLIPS: Now, the pictures we've just been talking about from Koram -- I hope I'm saying that right -- Koram -- Koram -- this village. Any belief that these pictures may be part of this propaganda war -- Bob?

FRANKEN: Well, the Taliban, of course, has been -- made it very clear that the journalists had to go where they were taken. This was an escorted tour. The Taliban has been keeping journalists out of the country. So we saw what the Taliban wanted the journalists to see. So, of course, the Taliban government is trying to present its side.

Of course, the charge on the other side is that the Pentagon is only telling its story, although the Pentagon has acknowledged that there have been some civilian casualties -- some just outside Kabul that were the result of an errant missile. We heard about that. And Pentagon officials say they are investigating the claim by the Taliban that up to 200 civilians have been killed in this village that was witnessed by the journalists.

PHILLIPS: Bob Franken with the latest from the Pentagon -- thank you so much.

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