Sunday, October 7
WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The United States rejected an offer from Afghanistan's Taliban rulers Sunday to put Osama bin Laden on trial and a senior Pentagon official cut short a Gulf tour as signs mounted that a U.S. military strike may be near.
In an offer apparently intended to stave off U.S. military action,
the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, said his government
was ready to try under Islamic law the Saudi-born militant bin Laden, accused
of masterminding last month's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
that killed nearly 5,600 people.
Asked if there was a sufficient case to put bin Laden on trial, Zaeef said: ``Yes.'' However, he stressed that Afghanistan had yet to see any evidence from the United States of bin Laden's involvement.
``We have studied this point and our position is that if there is not sufficient evidence, still we are ready for his trial in Afghanistan,'' he said.
White House officials wasted little time in rejecting the offer. ``The first step is that they hand over bin Laden and his lieutenants,'' one said.
The official said President Bush's original four demands -- that the Taliban surrender bin Laden and lieutenants in his al Qaeda network, close bin Laden's training camps, allow international inspections, and release detained aid workers -- were not subject to negotiation.
In a radio address Saturday, Bush gave his clearest warning yet that the hour of action was approaching. ``Full warning has been given and time is running out,'' he said.
Defense Department Undersecretary Douglas Feith cut short a Gulf tour and was apparently heading back to Washington, U.S. diplomats and officials in the region said. They gave no explanation of why Feith called off a scheduled stop in the United Arab Emirates.
Afghanistan's opposition Northern Alliance said it had complied with a U.S. request to close its airspace and ground its small fleet of helicopters and fixed wing planes.
It said U.S. air strikes on the Taliban were likely very soon and told residents of Kabul to stay away from military installations.
``We believe that the strike by the United States and (its) alliance will take place soon, very soon,'' Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, an alliance spokesman, told reporters in northern Afghanistan.
The Taliban has been diplomatically isolated and is now almost encircled by hostile military forces ready to mount an assault. Bin Laden has been living as a ``guest'' of the Afghan government since 1996.
Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi also predicted action very soon.
``I don't think its going to be long. When the president of the United States says 'time is running out,' you'd better listen,'' he said.
MIXTURE OF DEFIANCE AND CONCILIATION
Under intense pressure and with reports mounting of defections by some of its supporters, the Taliban is reacting with a mixture of defiance and attempts at conciliation.
The Taliban said an extra 8,000 troops were being sent to its
northern border with Uzbekistan to join several thousand already there.
``We have deployed our forces there at all important places. This is the question of our self respect and we will never bow before the Americans and will fight to the last,'' Afghan Islamic Press quoted a Taliban spokesman as saying.
Afghan opposition forces fighting the ruling Taliban said Sunday they had seized 11 villages in the central province of Ghor and were advancing on the provincial capital Cheghcharan.
An opposition spokesman, Mohammad Habeel, said Taliban defections were partly responsible for the advance in Ghor, which followed reports Saturday of similar movement in the northern province of Samangan.
``The probability of the fall of Cheghcharan is high,'' Habeel told Reuters by satellite telephone.
The United States has sent 1,000 soldiers to Uzbekistan, which shares a border with Afghanistan. The Voice of America said the first planes had landed.
U.S. and British aircraft carriers, more than 300 warplanes, ships armed with cruise missiles and special forces troops have gathered within striking distance of Afghanistan. Some 30,000 troops have also been deployed.
In other developments around the world, Philippine troops backed by bomber planes killed 15 Muslim guerrillas and wounded 25 in fierce fighting with a separatist group linked to bin Laden, the military said.
Ten soldiers were wounded in the clashes with the Abu Sayyaf group, which has been holding two Americans and 16 Filipinos hostage for months on an island.
In Saudi Arabia, authorities said two foreigners, including an American, were killed and four wounded in a bomb blast in the eastern Saudi city of Khobar Saturday. U.S. officials said they saw no immediate connection between the explosion and the U.S. military buildup.
REPORTER SAID FREED H Taliban said a British reporter held for more than a week for entering the country illegally had been freed. An offer from the Taliban Saturday to release eight foreign Christian aid workers on condition the United States ended its threats was rejected by both Washington and Canberra.
On the economic front, the world's richest nations, meeting in Washington, said they would work together to jump-start global growth and choke off funds for groups that sponsor terrorism.
``We are strongly committed to bringing forward needed measures to increase economic growth and preserve the health of our financial markets,'' the Group of Seven finance ministers said at the end of their meeting.
In Kabul, scores of people prepared to leave the beleaguered capital, a day after the sound of anti-aircraft guns trying to hit a circling spy aircraft renewed fears of imminent military strikes.
Security forces in Pakistan's border province of Baluchistan ordered Afghan refugees to move from camps near the airport after intercepting a message threatening to down an airliner.
The United Nations says a quarter of Afghanistan's 24 million population are dependent on food aid, that more than a million people have fled their homes within the war- and drought-ravaged country and that up to 1.5 million more may try to cross into neighboring countries.
Aid agencies stepped up their pleas for emergency food shipments to the country and Oxfam said between 1 million and 2 million people were already on the road in Afghanistan, trying to reach safety.
In an attempt to clamp down on anti-American sentiment, authorities in Pakistan Sunday detained the leader of a pro-Taliban Islamic party, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, at his home in the North West Frontier Province.
Rehman heads the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islami party, which has held
several demonstrations to protest threatened U.S.-led military strikes in
President George Bush said today that the US, with Britain's help, had begun military strikes against military installations of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban and training camps of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.
The private, Islamabad-based Afghan Islamic press agency quoted the Taliban as saying American planes had bombed areas near Kabul airport in the northern part of the city. The strikes are in retaliation for attacks on the US on September 11, when some 6,000 people died after hijacked planes were crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
The agency said there were no details of casualties and no reports of damage to the city itself. It added, however, that "huge smoke is rising near Kabul airport".
Afghanistan's other major cities - Jalalabad, Herat and Kandahar - were also hit. CNN reported that a command centre and radar system in Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold, had been destroyed.
US officials said the attack began with volleys of cruise missiles fired from US and British ships at air defences and al-Qaida camps.
In his televised address to the nation, Mr Bush said America was "supported by the will of the world" as it launched its long-awaited strikes against the Taliban. The Taliban had been given a clear ultimatum two weeks ago, the president said.
"None of those demands were met and now the Taliban will pay a price," he added. The terrorist forces would attempt to hide from the onslaught but would find no shelter, Mr Bush vowed. He warned of a long war ahead but said: "We will win this conflict through the patient accumulation of successes."
President Bush also signalled that the war on terror would not end with the attack on Afghanistan. "Every nation has a choice to make in this conflict. There is no neutral ground," he said.
Full text: President Bush's address
President Bush announcing the attacks
Sunday October 7, 2001
These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.
We are joined in this operation by our staunch friend, Great Britain. Other close friends, including Canada, Australia, Germany and France have pledged forces as the operation unfolds.
More than 40 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and across Asia have granted air transit or landing rights. Many more have shared intelligence. We are supported by the collective will of the world.
More than two weeks ago, I gave Taliban leaders a series of clear and specific demands:
"Close terrorist training camps, hand over leaders of the al-Qaida network, and return all foreign nationals, including American citizens unjustly detained in your country."
None of these demands were met and now the Taliban will pay a price. By destroying camps and disrupting communications we will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans.
Initially the terrorists may burrow deeper into caves and other entrenched hiding places. Our military action is also designed to clear the way for sustained, comprehensive, and relentless operations to drive them out and bring them to justice.
At the same time, the oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America and our allies.
On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al-Qaida terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.
We are joined in this operation by our staunch friend, Great Britain. Other close friends, including Canada, Australia, Germany and France, have pledged forces as the operation unfolds.
More than 40 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and
across Asia have granted air transit or landing rights. Many more have shared
intelligence. We are supported by the collective will of the world.
More than two weeks ago, I gave Taliban leaders a series of clear and specific demands: Close terrorist training camps. Hand over leaders of the al-Qaida network, and return all foreign nationals, including American citizens unjustly detained in our country. None of these demands were met. And now, the Taliban will pay a price.
By destroying camps and disrupting communications, we will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans.
Initially the terrorists may burrow deeper into caves and other entrenched hiding places. Our military action is also designed to clear the way for sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them out and bring them to justice.
At the same time, the oppressed people of Afghanistan will know
the generosity of America and our allies.
As we strike military targets, we will also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan.
The United States of America is a friend to the Afghan people, and we are the friends of almost a billion worldwide who practice the Islamic faith. The United States of America is an enemy of those who aid terrorists and of the barbaric criminals who profane a great religion by committing murder in its name.
This military action is a part of our campaign against terrorism, another front in a war that has already been joined through diplomacy, intelligence, the freezing of financial assets and the arrests of known terrorists by law enforcement agents in 38 countries.
Given the nature and reach of our enemies, we will win this conflict by the patient accumulation of successes, by meeting a series of challenges with determination and will and purpose.
Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader. Every
nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground.
If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocence, they have
become outlaws and murderers themselves. And they will take that lonely path
at their own peril.
I'm speaking to you today from the Treaty Room of the White House, a place where American presidents have worked for peace. We're a peaceful nation. Yet, as we have learned, so suddenly and so tragically, there can be no peace in a world of sudden terror. In the face of today's new threat, the only way to pursue peace is to pursue those who threaten it. We did not ask for this mission, but we will fulfil it.
The name of today's military operation is Enduring Freedom. We defend not only our precious freedoms, but also the freedom of people everywhere to live and raise their children free from fear. I know many Americans feel fear today. And our government is taking strong precautions. All law enforcement and intelligence agencies are working aggressively around America, around the world and around the clock.
At my request, many governors have activated the National Guard to strengthen airport security. We have called up reserves to reinforce our military capability and strengthen the protection of our homeland.
In the months ahead, our patience will be one of our strengths - patience with the long waits that will result from tighter security, patience and understanding that it will take time to achieve our goals, patience in all the sacrifices that may come. Today, those sacrifices are being made by members of our armed forces who now defend us so far from home, and by their proud and worried families.
A commander in chief sends America's sons and daughters into battle in a foreign land only after the greatest care and a lot of prayer. We ask a lot of those who wear our uniform. We ask them to leave their loved ones, to travel great distances, to risk injury, even to be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.
They are dedicated. They are honorable. They represent the best of our country, and we are grateful. To all the men and women in our military, every sailor, every soldier, every airman, every Coast Guardsman, every Marine, I say this: Your mission is defined. The objectives are clear. Your goal is just. You have my full confidence, and you will have every tool you need to carry out your duty.
I recently received a touching letter that says a lot about the state of America in these difficult times, a letter from a fourth grade girl with a father in the military. "As much as I don't want my dad to fight," she wrote, "I'm willing to give him to you."
This is a precious gift. The greatest she could give. This young girl knows what America is all about. Since Sept. 11, an entire generation of young Americans has gained new understanding of the value of freedom and its cost and duty and its sacrifice.
The battle is now joined on many fronts. We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.
Thank you. May God continue to bless America..
"Good afternoon. We have said since September 11 that the campaign against terrorism will be broad, sustained, and that we will use every element of American influence.
Today, the president has turned to direct, overt military force to complement the economic, humanitarian, financial, and diplomatic activity already well underway.
"The effect we hope to achieve through the raids, which, together with our coalition partners, we have initiated today, is to create conditions for sustained anti-terrorist and humanitarian relief operations in Afghanistan. That requires that, among other things, we first remove the threat from air defenses and from Taliban aircraft.
"We also seek to raise the cost of doing business for foreign terrorists who have chosen Afghanistan from which to organize their activities, and for the oppressive Taliban regime that continues to tolerate the terrorist presence in those portions of Afghanistan they control.
"The current military operations are focused on achieving several outcomes. To:
"Make it clear to the Taliban leaders and their supporters that harboring terrorists is unacceptable and carries a price.
"Acquire intelligence to facilitate future operations against Al Qaida and the Taliban regimes who harbor the terrorists.
"Develop relationships with groups in Afghanistan that oppose the Taliban regime and the foreign terrorists they support.
"Make it increasingly difficult for the terrorists to use Afghanistan freely as a base of operations.
"Alter the military balance over time, by denying to the Taliban its offensive systems that hamper the progress of the various opposition forces.
"Provide humanitarian relief to Afghans suffering truly oppressive living conditions.
"I want to reiterate a point President Bush has made often and that he made again today. The United States has organized armed coalitions on several occasions since the Cold War for the purpose of denying hostile regimes the opportunity to oppress their own or other people.
"In Kuwait, Northern Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, the United States took action on behalf of Muslim populations against outside invaders or oppressive regimes. The same is true today. We stand with those Afghans who are being repressed by a regime that abuses the very people it purports to lead and harbors terrorists who have attacked and killed thousands of innocent people around the world-of all religions, races and nationalities.
"While our raids today focus on the Taliban and the foreign
terrorists in Afghanistan, our aim remains much broader. Our objective is
to defeat those who use terrorism, and those that house or support them.
"The world stands united in this effort. It is not about a religion, an individual terrorist, or a country. Our partners in this effort represent nations and peoples of all cultures, religions, and races.
"We share the belief that terrorism is a cancer on the human condition, and we intend to oppose it wherever it is.
"The operation today involved a variety of weapons systems, and it originated from a number of separate locations. We used land and sea based aircraft, surface ships and submarines, and employed a variety of weapons to achieve our objectives.
"As President Bush mentioned in his statement, dozens of countries contributed in specific ways to this mission, including transit and landing rights, basing opportunities, and intelligence support. In this mission, we are particularly grateful for the direct military involvement of forces from Great Britain.
"To achieve the outcomes we seek, it is important to go after air defense and Taliban aircraft. We need freedom to operate on the ground and in the air, and the targets selected, if successfully destroyed, should permit an increasing degree of freedom over time.
"We have also targeted command facilities for those forces we know support terrorist elements within Afghanistan, and critical terrorist sites.
"As President Bush has repeatedly emphasized, we will hold accountable any who help terrorists, as well as the terrorists themselves."
The first planes roared over Kabul at around 16.20 GMT, soon after a nightly curfew took effect, lighting up the night sky by dropping bombs or firing missiles at targets in the city and near the airport.
Taliban forces in Kabul fired volleys of anti-aircraft fire into the night sky in response to the air raids, to little apparent effect. Electricity was cut almost immediately, although it was not clear if this was a result of a strike or a defensive measure. It was restored about 90 minutes later.
Minutes after the strikes on Kabul, the Taliban's stronghold of Kandahar also came under attack, provoking a mass exodus from the city. The eastern city of Jalalabad was next, and there were reports that smaller towns in the north as well the major city of Mazar-i-Sharif came under fire. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Although long expected, the strikes still caught residents of
the impoverished capital by surprise.
"You could hear planes, then I heard anti-aircraft fire," one resident said. "Then I heard loud explosions, maybe four or five. They were close together so it was hard to tell."
One big blast struck near the Taliban's defence ministry, south of the presidential palace. Anti-aircraft batteries near the airport to the south of the capital also appeared to be a target, although it was not possible to determine if they had been hit. A large plume of smoke was still billowing near the airport more than an hour after the attack.
Residents of Kandahar reported panic in the city that is the Taliban's spiritual stronghold and headquarters of Mullah Omar, protector of Bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 attacks. A second wave of attacks launched about two hours later appeared aimed at the home of Mullah Omar. One Taliban source in Kandahar said the main airport complex, built by the US in the 1950s, had been hit in the raid, but the runway was undamaged.
About 15 land-based bombers and about 25 carrier-based strike aircraft were used in the initial strike, which involved firing about 50 Tomahawk missiles, Richard Myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said. The Taliban said they had downed an aircraft in the southern province of Farah, but the claim was denied by the Pentagon.
Sunday's strikes included not only B-2 bombers launched from Whiteman Air Force in Missouri but heavy B-52 and B-1 bombers based on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Smaller attack jets were launched from at least two US aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean and Gulf.
The Afghan opposition launched an assault on the Taliban militia from an air force base just north of the capital, just hours after the first wave of US and British air strikes.
Northern alliance forces controlling the Bagram air force base fired multiple-rocket launchers at Taliban forces in the surrounding mountains. The Taliban returned fire using Soviet-made BM-21 rockets.
The opposition has said the base, about 25 miles north of Kabul,
could eventually be used by US forces. But first the Taliban will have to
be pushed out from the surrounding high ground.
LONDON (AP) - The U.S.-British offensive against Afghanistan hit 30 targets in that country ranging from military installations to terrorist training camps, the government said Monday.
In the first official assessment of the attacks, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said 30 targets had been hit and damage was inflicted. He said that no civilian areas had been hit.
Admiral Michael Boyce, chief of the defense staff, said three targets were in Kabul, four were near inhabited areas and the other 23 were in remote, uninhabited areas.
The offensive centered on knocking out Taliban anti-aircraft defenses and the Central Asian country's tiny air force, Boyce said. Camps and training facilities of the al-Qaida network of terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden were also hit, he said.
Further operations were imminent and British warplanes were being sent to the area to back up U.S. forces, he said.
Asked if ground forces would be sent in to Afghanistan, Hoon said that ``was clearly an option.''
But he said it was possible the Taliban would collapse under the pressure of the air strikes and that Western ground troops would not have to be deployed in a hostile environment.
Earlier, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said military action is likely to continue for weeks.
``We are certainly not talking days, unless something absolutely dramatic happens,'' he told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. When the interviewer asked whether it would be weeks, Straw said, ``Indeed.''
Asked by the BBC whether the United States and Britain would continue military operations until the Taliban were overthrown, Straw said ``I'm not saying that.''
``I'm saying that they will continue there is an assessment made by President Bush and our prime minister as to their effectiveness in terms of dealing with the threat of terrorism which has arisen from the al-Qaida organization and Osama bin Laden.''
WASHINGTON/KABUL (Reuters) - The United States and Britain on Sunday launched powerful air and missile strikes against bases, airports and training camps in Afghanistan, beginning its quest to hunt down and destroy those it blames for last month's attacks on New York and Washington.
President Bush said Afghanistan's radical Islamic rulers were about to ``pay a price'' for supporting terrorism and sheltering Osama bin Laden, accused by Washington of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 5,600 at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and in a fourth hijacked airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania.
Eyewitnesses said they saw flashes and heard huge explosions that shook the Afghan capital of Kabul and the cities of Kandahar and Jalalabad in the first phase of what the United States has said would be a protracted and wide-ranging war against terrorism and the states that support it.
Four hours later, another wave of attacks began and blasts rocked
Kabul as defenders fired anti-aircraft weapons.
Speaking from the White House, Bush said the operation, called ``Enduring Freedom,'' was initially designed to ``disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.''
``By destroying camps and disrupting communications, we will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans,'' he said.
``Initially the terrorists may burrow deeper into caves and other entrenched hiding places. Our military action is also designed to clear the way for sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them out and bring them to justice,'' Bush said.
Residents of Kandahar reported panic in the city that is the Taliban's spiritual stronghold and headquarters of Mullah Mohammad Omar, protector of bin Laden.
``People are trying to run away,'' one resident told Reuters.
''They are very scared. They are very frightened.''
Reuters correspondent Sayed Salahuddin heard at least four loud explosions as the first wave hit Kabul. ``A black plume of smoke is rising, it seemed to be very big,'' he reported.
One big blast struck near the Defense Ministry, south of the presidential palace. Electricity to the city was cut almost immediately. Other witnesses reported two waves of strikes against a major command base at the airport in Kandahar.
The attack had been under preparation since the Sept. 11 suicide attacks that destroyed the twin skyscrapers of New York's World Trade Center and badly damaged the Pentagon outside Washington.
BIN LADEN ALIVE
The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan said bin Laden and Mullah Omar both survived the first wave of attacks.
In his first verified statement since the Sept. 11 attacks, a videotape of bin Laden wearing battle fatigues and with an AK-47 rifle by his side was broadcast by an Arab television station in Qatar that was apparently prepared in advance for release after a U.S. attack. In it, he praised the loss of life in the United States and described Bush as ``head of the infidels.''
``Here is America struck by God Almighty in one of its vital
organs, so that its greatest buildings are destroyed.
Grace and gratitude to God. America has been filled with horror from north to south and east to west, and thanks be to God that what America is tasting now is only a copy of we have tasted,'' he said in the statement.
``Every Muslim must rise to defend his religion. The wind of faith is blowing and the wind of change is blowing to remove evil from the Peninsula of Mohammad, peace be upon him,'' he said in a statement clearly designed to arouse the anger of Muslims worldwide.
At a Pentagon briefing, officials said 15 bombers, 25 strike aircraft and 50 cruise missiles took part in the first wave of attacks including B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers. British submarines launched cruise missiles
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the U.S. aim was to strengthen opposition forces in Afghanistan, which have been fighting for years against the Taliban, which controls about 90 percent of the country.
Shortly after the air strikes began, Afghan opposition forces launched a heavy barrage of shelling on Taliban positions north of Kabul.
The State Department warned Americans abroad that its attacks on Afghanistan may lead to strong anti-American feelings and retaliation against U.S. citizens and interests.
``Americans elsewhere (other than in Afghanistan) are urged to monitor the local news, maintain contact with the nearest American embassy or consulate and to limit their movement in their respective locations,'' it said.
Last month's attacks on the United States transformed Bush from a hesitant leader who came to office in January after an indecisive and disputed election into a commander-in-chief enjoying the backing and approval of the vast majority of Americans.
``We are joined in this operation by our staunch friend, Great Britain,'' he said, adding that Canada, Australia, Germany and France had also pledged forces as the operation unfolds.
BUSH CITES GLOBAL SUPPORT
``More than 40 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and across Asia have granted air transit or landing rights. Many more have shared intelligence. We are supported by the collective will of the world,'' he said.
Many Western governments quickly lined up behind the United States. Pakistan, the only state still to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government, said the Taliban had brought the strikes on themselves.
But condemnation came from Iraq, Iran and the Palestinian Hamas movement, responsible for a series of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.
In declaring the beginning of the military operation, Bush followed in the footsteps of his father, former President George Bush, almost 11 years after his father announced the start of the Gulf War against Iraq.
``Now, the Taliban will pay a price. By destroying camps and disrupting communications, we will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans,'' Bush said.
He called on Americans and their allies to be patient, saying this war would not be over quickly.
``Our military action is also designed to clear the way for sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them out and bring them to justice,'' Bush said.
The attack came hours after Washington rejected an offer from Afghanistan's Taliban to put bin Laden on trial, a last-ditch attempt to stave off U.S. military action.
Bin Laden, 44, an extremist Islamic militant from a wealthy Saudi family, has been defying U.S. efforts to capture or kill him for years. Since 1996, he has been living under the protection of the Taliban in Afghanistan in a remote mountain redoubt.
He has been indicted for the deadly 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, and was linked to last October's attack on the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, which killed 17 American servicemen.
A week after the attack on the United States, Bush presented the Taliban with an ultimatum, demanding that they surrender bin Laden and lieutenants in his al Qaeda network, close his training camps, allow international inspections, and release detained aid workers.
He said if they failed to comply, the Taliban would share the fate of the bin Laden network. The Taliban adheres to an extreme, puritanical form of Islam, under which women are not allowed to work, seek education or show their unveiled faces in public.
DEFIANCE MIXED WITH CONCILIATION
In the last hours before the attack, under intense pressure and with reports mounting of defections by some of its supporters, the Taliban reacted with a mixture of defiance and attempts at conciliation.
It said an extra 8,000 troops were being sent to its northern border with Uzbekistan to join several thousand already there.
``We will never bow before the Americans and will fight to the last,'' a Taliban spokesman said.
U.S. and British aircraft carriers, more than 300 warplanes, ships armed with cruise missiles and special forces troops gathered within striking distance of Afghanistan. Some 30,000 other troops have also been deployed.
The United Nations says a quarter of Afghanistan's 24 million population are dependent on food aid, that more than a million people have fled their homes within the war- and drought-ravaged country. The U.N. estimated that up to 1.5 million more may try to cross into neighboring countries.
Aid agencies stepped up their pleas for emergency food shipments to the country and Oxfam said between 1 million and 2 million people were already on the road in Afghanistan, trying to reach safety.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - About 20 civilians were killed in the Kabul area during the U.S.-led attack, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan said Monday.
``There was no differentiation on the civilian parts and on the military parts,'' Ambassador Abdul Zaeef told reporters. ``According to the Americans, their objectives and their aims were military and terrorist camps.''
But he said missiles struck areas where civilians were living and that about ``20 Afghans including women, children and elderly'' were killed.
"The crowd was surging down the road. It was pretty scary because we had staff in there," Rupert Colville, spokesman for the office of the United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees, told Reuters.
"We've got high walls around our offices, but the protesters managed to break our windows by throwing stones. They attacked the UNICEF building nearby and set it on fire. Fortunately no-one was hurt."
Black smoke billowed from the premises of the United Nations Children's Educational Fund on the edge of town as firefighters tried to control the blaze. Several U.N. vehicles were burned.
Police said about 100 people, including three policemen, were injured in street battles through the day between anti-riot police using teargas and batons and crowds several thousand strong hurling stones, chanting anti-American slogans and waving posters with the face of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, America's most wanted man.
Quetta was shrouded in smoke, and the city stank of teargas and the acrid stench of burning tyres.
A bank, two cinemas, several shops, a police station, the offices of the central investigation agency -- a police organisation -- were attacked and set alight. At least two fire brigade trucks were set on fire, witnesses said.
"Bush is a terrorist," "Down with America" and "Musharraf is a dog" chanted the crowds, which started from central Quetta in the morning and then split into disparate groups roaming the frontier city of 1.5 million people just two hours' drive from the Afghan border.
The announcement of U.S. and British attacks on Afghan targets came too late for most people on Sunday night, but the crowds started to gather after prayers on Monday morning as news of the air strikes began to sink in.
There was also anger that Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, had allowed Western aircraft to use Pakistani airspace for the initial assault. He has promised continued support.
The violence worsened after noon prayers, with as many as 12,000 people rampaging through the streets in the afternoon.
HONG KONG, Oct. 8 (Kyodo) - A group of Hong Kong activists staged an antiwar march and candlelight vigil Monday to voice their opposition to the U.S.-led air attacks on Afghanistan.
About 100 representatives of the Committee for Peace Not War and the Hong Kong Federation of Students, holding banners and chanting slogans, marched through busy streets toward the U.S. Consulate General in downtown Central from the Causeway Bay shopping district in late afternoon.
''War is not the answer,'' they said, noting the U.S.-led military action was ''combating violence with violence,'' which will only worsen the situation and fail to bring peace.
The United States and Britain launched air strikes Sunday against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban for sheltering Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect for masterminding attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, however, expressed support for the international action, adding the territory is liaising with the U.S. and other international organizations closely to fight terrorism.
''Acts of terrorism are totally unacceptable and we support international efforts to combat terrorism,'' Tung told reporters after an urgent meeting with senior government officials to review the situation earlier Monday.
He said the Hong Kong government is watching carefully the possible impact on the global economy and the territory in the wake of the attacks.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong police said they have stepped up security around major buildings and foreign consulate facilities in the territory and are ready to deal with any emergency.
The territory's government has urged local residents not to travel to Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan, and for Hong Kong people currently in the two countries to leave as soon as possible.