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|Taliban Proclaim Holy War; Americans Fear Reprisals|
|10/08/01 at 16:03:51|
|Taliban Proclaim Holy War; Americans Fear Reprisals|
By Peter Millership and Sayed Salahuddin
WASHINGTON/KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's Taliban movement declared a jihad, or holy war, on Monday after the United States and Britain hammered targets across their country and Washington warned it may have to launch attacks on other countries as part of its war on terrorism.
In the United States thousands of additional armed police and National Guards patrolled airports, train stations, subways and other possible targets of retaliation for Sunday's bombing raids, themselves a response to last month's attacks by hijacked airliners on New York and Washington that killed more than 5,500 people.
In Afghanistan, frightened and shell-shocked residents of the capital Kabul and other cities picked though the rubble of the attacks which the Taliban said killed only a handful of people.
The world reacted to the strikes with unanimous condemnation of terrorism, but as U.S. allies welcomed the strikes some Muslim leaders said it was Washington that was now playing the terrorist. In Pakistan, Afghanistan's southern neighbor, anti-U.S. protesters burned cars and a U.N. office.
At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte told the 15-nation Security Council, "We may find that our self-defense requires further actions with respect to other organizations and other states."
Negroponte gave his warning in a letter to the council in which he said there was "clear and compelling information" the al-Qaeda organization of Saudi-born exile Osama bin Laden, whom the Taliban harbor as a "guest," had a central role in the Sept. 11 attacks that leveled the World Trade Center in New York and severely damaged the Pentagon outside Washington.
President Bush and key members of his security team have said new attacks on U.S. soil are possible.
In a televised broadcast after the world's most modern arsenal unleashed its might on one of its least developed countries, bin Laden warned Americans they would never be safe until Palestine was at peace and U.S. forces stationed in Saudi Arabia had left.
Authorities threw an even tighter security net over New York City, already on high alert since the destruction of the World Trade Center, as thousands of additional armed police and National Guards patrolled the streets and major buildings.
The FBI has asked law enforcement agencies across the country to operate at the highest possible state of alert for "any act of terrorism or violence" domestically.
"I know many Americans feel fear today," Bush said after announcing the start of the attack at the weekend. "Our government is taking strong precautions," he added, referring to the risk of reprisals.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Monday that the attacks had been "very successful."
"We do, however, have to understand that it's going to be a very long and sustained effort," he said in an interview on CNN, warning of further strikes to come.
A senior Taliban health ministry official on Monday gave the death toll in the raids as six to eight, saying this was fewer than expected as the warplanes missed many targets.
The Taliban cabinet endorsed on Monday a call by a meeting of clerics to declare a jihad, saying the Afghan people would sacrifice all for honor even as thousands fled the capital fearing another night of thunderous air raids.
"They (the clerics) issued an edict for jihad and our people are enforcing it," Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal told Reuters.
The United States was settling down for the long war that Bush has declared on terrorism in the military, diplomatic and economic theaters. Britain said on Monday it was sending reconnaissance and tanker aircraft to the region to support further operations within the next couple of days.
"This problem is not going to be rooted out by a cruise missile," Rumsfeld said of the 50 $1 million Tomahawk cruise missiles that were launched at up to three dozen targets including Taliban airfields, warplanes, command and control centers and guerrilla training bases throughout Afghanistan.
Iraq on Monday sounded an ominous warning.
"We are at the brink of a big war being launched first against Islamic states and Muslim people and there are threats against other Muslim countries and people," Foreign Affairs Minister Naji Sabri told the Qatari News Agency on arrival in Doha for an emergency Muslim summit to be held on Wednesday.
AID DROPS, BIN LADEN ALIVE
In an apparent carrot-and-stick approach, less than nine hours after Sunday's strikes began, two U.S. C-17 cargo planes dropped 37,000 humanitarian food packages to displaced Afghan refugees facing starvation in remote areas of that country.
Taliban officials said that bin Laden and its spiritual leader, the reclusive one-eyed Mullah Mohammad Omar, were unhurt in the raids.
Bin Laden, 44, who is 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.
"It's pretty clear he's in Afghanistan somewhere," Rumsfeld said, adding he was not the chief target of the strikes and that killing or capturing him would not spell victory against the Taliban who vowed on Monday to fight on.
The opposition Northern Alliance, which is battling the Taliban, hailed the raids as "successful," saying Taliban air defenses and radar had been destroyed. It said discussions had taken place about securing U.S. air support for its activities and that an advance on Kabul was possible within one week.
It said the situation for the Taliban was getting "out of control."
British officials, meanwhile, said the use of ground troops in future operations was "clearly an option."
The crisis has rocked global financial markets and stocks on Wall Street opened lower on Monday as investors worried about how long U.S.-led retaliatory strikes would last and investors braced for the worst corporate earnings season in a decade.
AIR RAIDS ROCK AFGHANISTAN
In Afghanistan, initial estimates from across the country had placed the death toll as high as 20.
Taliban Ambassador Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef to Pakistan called the raids "horrendous terrorist attacks. "Houses were hit near Kabul airport and women and children were killed," he told Reuters, adding that details were still coming in.
Taliban officials said three people were killed and at least four injured in three air raids on the movement's southern Afghan stronghold of Kandahar, home of its spiritual leader Mullah Omar, the protector of bin Laden.
The Taliban have persistently refused to surrender bin Laden saying he is a guest and that the United States has not provided any evidence against him for the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York and the attack on the Pentagon. airport.
As dawn broke in Kabul, residents emerged nervously from their homes following what one described as a night of terror.
"Only God knows what has happened," said one resident. "I am leaving. I will sleep under the sky rather than stay in the city for another night."
An old disabled man at a bus station said he was too frightened to stay in a city that has seen large areas reduced to rubble in more than 20 years of war.
But many people tried to resume their normal daily life, opening their shops, while Taliban guards were in their normal positions outside government offices.
ALLIES RALLY TO U.S., CRITICS OUTRAGED
In the aftermath of the retaliatory attack, Washington's allies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere rallied around Bush's tough response to terrorism but Muslim leaders in Indonesia and Malaysia echoed the Taliban ambassador's anger.
Condemnation came from Iran and the Palestinian Hamas movement. Malaysia said the strikes could bring catastrophe.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday condemned the strikes saying they would kill innocent civilians and turn thousands into refugees.
Anti-U.S. wrath gripped Pakistan cities.
Police fired into the air to disperse unruly crowds in the city center of Quetta and used teargas and batons.
A pall of smoke hung over the western city as police battled thousands of pro-Taliban demonstrators who set ablaze the office of the United Nations Children's Fund, two cinemas, a bank and an office of Pakistan's Central Investigations Agency.
Palestinian police shot dead two protesters at a rally in support of bin Laden on Monday, the first time Palestinians were killed by their own security forces since the start of the anti-Israel revolt.
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