Jiml1126 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (13 years 11 months 4 weeks ago) and read 1046 times:
Britain says the US-led air attacks in Afghanistan have resulted in the destruction of all nine training camps of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network - which the US suspects of being behind last month's suicide terror attacks.
"We believe that nine al-Qaeda camps were occupied before the start of the military operation - I can now tell you that we have successfully put all these camps out of action," Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told a news conference.
Mr Hoon said that an additional nine airfields had been attacked and were mostly put out of action, and 24 military garrisons had also been hit hard.
Sixteen days into the bombardment, the anti-Taleban opposition in Afghanistan says it has launched a new offensive on the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
Northern Alliance warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum said his forces were locked in fierce battles with the Taleban near Mazar - which was once his stronghold and which he is eager to recapture.
Another key alliance commander, Mohammed Atta, said his men had launched a joint ground and air attack overnight on Keshendeh, 70 kilometres (40 miles) south of Mazar.
After a day-long respite for Kabul itself, American bombing resumed on Tuesday, with residents reporting three loud explosions after midnight and a further two bombs dropped at dawn and more raids throughout the day.
Click here for map of the battlegrounds
Taleban anti-aircraft guns opened fire mid-morning as warplanes passed overhead again, possibly heading for further bomb runs at the front lines.
The last time Kabul was hit, the Taleban artillery was silent, leading to speculation about the extent of damage to their air defences.
In other developments:
--The United Nations says a military hospital in the western Afghan city of Herat has been destroyed by bombing - but it has no information about casualties
A US defence official is quoted as saying that the Pentagon is investigating reports that an American missile went astray over Herat.
--The Taleban confirm that Bin Laden is still alive
The leader of the US House of Representatives, Richard Gephart, says "we all suspect" a link between the anthrax outbreak in the US and Bin Laden after meeting President George W Bush.
--Pakistan and the Taleban agree to set up camps in Afghanistan away from the border for thousands of refugees.
--More than 1,000 British troops are being prepared for deployment in any potential ground war in Afghanistan
Baton-wielding police in the Pakistani city of Jacobabad beat back protesters demonstrating against the US military presence in the country.
--A Japanese man - thought to be a journalist - is detained by the Taleban in eastern Afghanistan.
The Taleban fired two rockets at Charikar, the Alliance-held town nearest to the Kabul front line, both rockets falling into crowded streets in the city centre and killing several people.
A BBC cameraman saw the second rocket hit a market stall, throwing an old man into the air with the force of the blast.
At least three people are reported to have died when US jets bombed a convoy of fuel tanker trucks bringing fuel to the southern city of Kandahar.
The Taleban Information Ministry also said a US bomb fell on a mosque in the western city of Herat, killing 15 people praying inside.
The American Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has said the US attacks on Taleban front lines in support of the opposition are a "logical progression" of the American-led military campaign.
Speaking on Monday at a Pentagon news conference, Mr Rumsfeld confirmed that US warplanes had begun bombing Taleban troops north of Kabul and near Mazar-e-Sharif on Sunday.
"Our efforts from the air clearly are to assist those forces on the ground in being able to occupy more ground," he said.
The US campaign against the Taleban began more than two weeks ago after they refused to hand over Bin Laden and key members of his al-Qaeda network.
On Monday, Mr Rumsfeld also said the US was working with both the Northern Alliance and tribes in southern Afghanistan to strengthen opposition to the Taleban.
The US has urged the Northern Alliance to occupy more ground before the onset of winter.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said last week that Washington wants the Northern Alliance to take Mazar-e-Sharif, whose large airport could be used as a base for operations by US forces.
But he added that the US was still continuing discussions about whether a rebel march into Kabul would be "the best thing".