Three of first attacks on Afghanistan hit capital of Kabul; most targets rural

Monday, October 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The initial round of U.S.-British strikes against Afghanistan struck the capital city of Kabul but most of the targets were in rural areas, British officials said Monday.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said all the targets were ``very low collateral damage targets. There is no question but that any people ... were around those targets because they were part of the al-Qaida and the Taliban military.''

In London, British defense officials said the first strikes hit three targets in Kabul, four near other urban areas and 23 strikes were in remote, uninhabited areas.

``Neither the Afghan civilian population nor their homes or property have been targeted,'' said British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon.

The targets included military installations and terrorist training camps, officials said.

On Sunday, Rumsfeld said an early goal was to destroy any aircraft or anti-aircraft weapons in the hands of the ruling Taliban militia or the al-Qaida terrorist network it shelters. Other targets include several of the two dozen terrorist training camps run by al-Qaida, the Taliban or groups aligned with them.

Taliban officials say the first wave of strikes did not kill suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden or Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Kandahar, hometown to Omar and the Taliban, saw strikes on its airfield and military command centers as well as the compound where Omar lives.

Strikes also landed in and around Kabul, Afghanistan's war-shattered capital and site of one of the country's largest airfields.

Other targets or potential targets:

_Kandahar: Afghan sources say U.S. strikes hit the airport and a radar station there, as well as Omar's compound and housing areas built for al-Qaida fighters. The headquarters of the Taliban's 2nd army corps is in Kandahar, as well as areas where bin Laden has reportedly lived.

_Kabul: Explosions were heard near the airport, as well as in areas with Taliban political and military bases. Kabul is home to the Taliban's central army corps.

_Near Kabul: Several key training bases also are in the Kabul area. A former base once used by the Soviets at Rishkhor, about 10 miles southwest of Kabul, is reportedly the training site for thousands of Pakistani and Arab volunteers who joined the Taliban militia. Another al-Qaida training camp is about 30 miles west of Kabul.

_Jalalabad: U.S. strikes on this city in eastern Afghanistan, near the Khyber Pass and the Pakistani border, hit the city's airport.

_Darunta complex: This group of al-Qaida training bases outside Jalalabad is one of the organization's largest. The compound includes a base built by the Central Intelligence Agency for rebels during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The complex includes several underground bunkers dug into the arid hills, as well as an area reportedly used by al-Qaida to train its operatives in the use of chemical weapons. The Taliban also uses a base in the complex.

_Khost: Several al-Qaida bases outside this eastern Afghanistan city were hit by Tomahawk missiles in 1998 after the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The base complex includes underground bunkers built during the Soviet invasion.

_Herat: Home to the headquarters of the Taliban's 4th army corps, this city in northwestern Afghanistan also has a key airfield. A fuel storage facility at that airport was reportedly hit.

_Shindand: This remote outpost in west-central Afghanistan is home to the second-largest air base used by the Soviets during the 1980s. The base is now run by the Taliban.

_Mazar-e-Sharif: Pentagon officials said the United States struck at a large concentration of Taliban equipment near this northern Afghan city, including several tanks.