More Than 70 Afghan Civilians Killed, 100 Injured At Least During Ongoing US Aggression
US forces, claiming control of Afghan strikes, were flying around the clock sorties Wednesday on the forty day of their assault on the war ravaged country and its poor people. But there appeared to be no immediate shift to low altitude raids that would allow pinpoint targeting of Taliban military installations and camps belonging to Osama ben Laden to clear the way for the deployment of ground troops.
US warplanes staged a daylight raids over Kandahar, the Taliban strong hold and home to militia leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who narrowly escaped death the day before when the complex he lives in took a direct hit. US bombers also flew over Kabul Wednesday afternoon triggering Taliban forces to open fire with anti-aircraft guns.
The daylight sorties came after the US said its bombing campaign, which began Sunday night had given its forces air supremacy over the country. A claim dismissed by the Taliban.
Also dismissing that US strikes only aim at targeting military positions, Taliban officials said the overnight raids hit three residential areas two near the capital Kabul and one close to the airport in Kandahar, killing tens of civilians. The Afghan Islamic Press reported 70 civilians had been killed and more than 100 injured since US-led air strikes began on Sunday.
Taliban sources quoted by the Pakistan-based news agency said 28 civilians had died in or around Kandahar since Sunday. Another 25 people had died in Kabul, seven in the western province of Farah where the Shindand airport has been hit, two in the western city of Herat and eight in the northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif. Estimates of civilian casualties from other known areas of attack, such as Kunduz in the north and Jalalabad in the east, were not available, the Taliban said.
On Tuesday the UN announced four Afghan workers with a UN-officials mine clearing agency were killed when a US missile slammed into their Kabul office.
Besides Kabul and Kandahar, US missiles also struck two Taliban held airfields in Herat and Shindand. Meanwhile, reports from the northwestern Bajour region in Pakistan said an armed confrontation between Taliban and Pakistan troops appeared to be shaping up Wednesday after a short skirmish at a remote border post led to both sides calling in reinforcements.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said US-led forces claimed that the attacks has been sufficient to damage all but one airfield while chairman of the joint chief of staff General Myers showed a series of slides illustrating the effects of attacks so far.
Amid the ongoing aggression, Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul-Salam Zaeef said the US claim that they have destroyed the defense capability of the Taliban is not true and announced that Mullah Omar and ben Laden are safe and alive.
Zaeef added the dreams of America will not come true, calling on Muslims in the US to take action against US atrocities.
He also said the Taliban were seeking to determine whether Paris Match reporter Michel Peyrard, who was detained in Afghanistan Tuesday wearing a women's veil, was a journalist or spy.
Another Taliban official said Afghans in the eastern province of Khost had burned US food aid dropped with air raids rather than accept "satanic" gifts from the enemy.
On the other hand, Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network warned Wednesday that the United States would face further attacks by hijacked planes and urged all Muslims to join in a Jihad against the US.
Al-Qaeda spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith warned saying, "The Americans must know that the storm of plane attacks will not stop." I
In a pre-recorded message broadcast by Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television station Abu Ghaith said "American interests are everywhere, all over the world. And every Muslim has to play his real and true role to uphold his religion and his nation".
He said US-led military strikes against Afghanistan had "opened a door that will never be closed" and "America must know that by coming to the land of Afghanistan they've opened up a new page of animosity between us and the forces of the unbelievers."
Referring to the West's double standards the statement said "Is it possible that America and its allies would kill over all these years and that would not be called 'terrorism'? And when the victim comes out to revenge it is called 'terrorism'. Isn't this a trick?" he said.