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U.S. missiles pound targets in Afghanistan, Sudan

El Shifa Pharmaceutical plant
Sudanese television reports El Shifa Pharmaceutical plant burns after Thursday's strike in Sudan  
Clinton address from Oval Office
Windows Media 28K 56K

Clinton: 'Our target was terror'

August 21, 1998
Web posted at: 5:10 a.m. EDT (0910 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- American cruise missiles pounded sites in Afghanistan and Sudan Thursday in retaliation for the deadly bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7.

"Let our actions today send this message loud and clear -- there are no expendable American targets," U.S. President Clinton said in a televised address to the American people Thursday evening. "There will be no sanctuary for terrorists. We will defend our people, our interests and our values."

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 millionaire Osama bin Laden.

An official of the Taliban, Afgahanistan's Islamic rulers, reported 21 were killed and 30 were injured in the missile strikes in eastern Afghanistan.

In the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, the El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries factory -- which U.S. officials say also has ties to bin Laden and produces chemicals that can be used to make deadly VX nerve gas -- was heavily damaged.

In response, an angry crowd of demonstrators, chanting "Down, Down, U.S.A." took over the U.S. embassy building in Khartoum, which had been closed after the August bombings, Sudanese television reported. U.S. diplomats had been pulled out of Sudan in 1996, after the State Department decided it could no longer ensure their safety.

The Attack

U.S.: Bin Laden's network planning new attacks

Clinton said that information gathered by American intelligence showed that a network of terrorists affiliated with bin Laden was responsible for the bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which killed 257 people, including 12 Americans.

"Our mission was clear -- to strike at the network of radical groups affiliated with, and funded by, Osama bin Laden, the pre-eminent organizer and financier of international terrorism in the world today," Clinton said.

National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said that American intelligence had also turned up "very specific" information that the bin Laden network was planning additional attacks, which Thursday's missile launches were designed to prevent.

In addition, the United States had information that top leaders of bin Laden's network were to meet in Afghanistan Thursday. Berger said that "influenced our planning" for the attack, which was authorized by the president last Friday.

Bin Laden has been given shelter by Afghanistan's Islamic rulers, the Taliban, and may have been in the area targeted by U.S. missiles. Taliban officials said bin Laden survived the attack, but U.S. officials said they did not know if he survived.

Pentagon sources confirmed to CNN that the attacks were made with Tomahawk cruise missiles, not aircraft. The missiles were fired from U.S. Navy ships in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. The simultaneous attacks took place about 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT).

Rubble, fire in Khartoum

Sudanese television showed piles of rubble at the Khartoum 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."

Sudanese television reports seven wounded by the U.S. strike  

Sudanese television reported seven people injured. Wounded people were shown in television pictures.

Afghan attacks in remote region

In Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Taliban, Mullah Abdullah, said the U.S. attacks were in Khost, about 90 miles (144 kilometers) south of the capital, Kabul, and Jalalabad, 60 miles (96 kilometers) east of Kabul.

Clinton called the sites "terrorist facilities" and said they were being used to train terrorists from around the world.

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.

Sudanese television reports much of El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries plant in Sudan has been reduced to rubble  

However, Clinton defended the decision to launch missiles into the two countries.

"The United States does not take this action lightly. Afghanistan and Sudan have been warned for years to stop harboring and supporting these terrorist groups," he said. "The countries that persistently host terrorists have no right to be safe havens."

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." (Audio 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 past week, after U.S. intelligence confirmed bin Laden's involvement in the terrorist bombings.

Albright: 'They can hide, but not escape justice'

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called on the international community to take whatever action was necessary to "deter and defeat terrorist acts."


"Together, decent people everywhere must send the message to terrorists everywhere that they can hide but they cannot escape the long arm of justice," she said.

Clinton also emphasized that the U.S. attack should not be construed as anti-Islam.

"Our actions today were not aimed at Islam," he said. "No religion condones the murder of innocent men, women and children."

In the wake of the missile attacks, the U.S. State Department issued a general warning for U.S. residents abroad to be on alert.

The Federal Aviation Administration has announced that until further notice that it has closed the airspace over Sudan and Afghanistan to any aircraft flown by Americans or registered in the United States.

An FAA official tells CNN that, under the order, an American citizen who buys an airline ticket in the United States to a destination that requires passage through either country's airspace will be denied passage on that particular flight.

Correspondents Jamie McIntyre and Andrea Koppel and Reuters contributed to this report.
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