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U.S. strikes 'terrorist' targets in Afghanistan, Sudan

President Clinton's remarks
Real 28K 56K
Windows Media 28K 56K
August 20, 1998
Web posted at: 2:37 p.m. EDT (1837 GMT)

EDGARTOWN, Massachusetts (CNN) -- U.S. armed forces attacked "terrorist-related facilities" in Afghanistan and Sudan on Thursday in retaliation for the recent bombings of two U.S. embassies in east Africa, President Clinton and Pentagon officials announced.

"Today we have struck back," Clinton declared before cutting short a family vacation on Martha's Vineyard to return to Washington.

Defense Secretary William Cohen and Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to specify the nature of the "simultaneous" U.S. attacks which, according to Clinton, occurred against a terrorist base in Afghanistan and a chemical weapons facility in Sudan. No U.S. casualties were reported.

"We have convincing evidence these groups played the key role in the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania," the president said.


Pentagon: Strikes sought to protect U.S. citizens overseas

Two bombs exploded August 7 at the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, killing 247 people in Kenya and 10 in Tanzania. More than 5,500 people were injured, mostly Kenyans.

"Terrorists must have no doubt that in the face of their threat, America will protect its citizens," Clinton said.

Clinton said the groups that were struck were affiliated with Osama bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire whom U.S. officials call a major sponsor of terrorism.

A group reportedly founded by bin Laden -- the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders -- issued a warning Wednesday in the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat saying that "strikes will continue from everywhere" against the United States.

"Today, I ordered our Armed Forces to strike at terrorist-related facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan because of the threat they present to our national security," Clinton told reporters.

Clinton said he ordered the strikes on the two targets because:

  • There was "convincing evidence" that the groups being attacked were involved in the embassy bombings.

  • "These groups have executed attacks against Americans in the past."

  • "We have compelling information that additional attacks were planned."

  • Clinton said the groups were "seeking to acquire chemical weapons and other dangerous weapons."

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