U.S. missiles pound targets in Afghanistan, Sudan
Retaliation for bombing of U.S. embassies in eastern AfricaAugust 20, 1998
Web posted at: 5:53 p.m. EDT (2153 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saying "there will be no sanctuary for terrorists," President Clinton on Thursday said the U.S. strikes against terrorist bases in Afghanistan and a facility in Sudan are part of "a long, ongoing struggle between freedom and fanaticism."
His comments were broadcast live from the White House shortly after he arrived in Washington from his vacation in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
U.S. officials say the six sites attacked in Afghanistan were part of a network of terrorist compounds near the Pakistani border that housed supporters of Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden.
American officials say they have "convincing evidence" that bin Laden, who has been given shelter by Afghanistan's Islamic rulers, was involved in the bombings of the east African embassies.
In the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, the El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries factory -- which U.S. officials say was housing chemical weapons -- was also attacked.
Pentagon sources confirmed to CNN that the attacks were made with cruise missiles, not aircraft. The missiles were fired from ships in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. The simultaneous attacks took place about 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT).
In a brief comment made before his departure, the president said, "Today, we have struck back."
The president said he ordered the strike against bin Laden and his compatriots because of "compelling information they were planning additional terrorist attacks against our citizens and others with the inevitable collateral casualties and .. seeking to acquire chemical weapons and other dangerous weapons."
Rubble, fire in Khartoum
Sudanese television showed piles of rubble at the factory and fire raging in the distance. People were seen walking through the damage, wearing masks.
Sudanese officials reacted angrily to the attacks. Interior Minister Abdul Rahim told CNN in a telephone interview that the privately owned pharmaceutical firm had "nothing to do with chemical weapons."
"We have no chemical weapons factory in our country," he said.
A statement read on Sudanese television about an hour after the attack said, "The wrongful American air force launched air attacks on Sudan tonight which aimed at strategic and vital areas." There was no report as to the number of casualties.
Bin Laden reportedly survives attack
In Afghanistan, a spokesman for the ruling Taliban, Mullah Abdullah, said that "bin Laden is safe and no damage has been done to any of his companions." Bin Laden has been living in Afghanistan with the permission of the Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic group that controls most of the country.
The supreme leader of the Taliban said they would never hand over bin Laden to the United States. A Pakistan-based Afghan news service quoted Mullah Mohammad Omar as condemning U.S. bombings on Afghan sites Thursday and saying that they showed "enmity" for the Afghan people.
Cohen: 'No sanctuary for terrorists'
U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said the goal of the strikes was to disrupt and attempt to destroy the suspected training and support facilities used to train "hundreds, if not thousands, of terrorists." ( 1.9 MB / 20 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
"We recognize these strikes will not eliminate the problem," Cohen said. "But our message is clear. There will be no sanctuary for terrorists and no limit to our resolve to defend American citizens and our interests -- our ideals of democracy and law -- against these cowardly attacks."
Cohen said planning for the attack began within the last week.
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