- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2001

American pilots bombed targets in Afghanistan day and night today as the Bush administration pressed its campaign to combat terrorism. The United Nations listed four security guards as civilian casualties of the military campaign.
Four weeks after the worst terrorist attack on American soil, President Bush moved quickly to beef up his new Office of Homeland Security and was conferring with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose nation has offered to assist in military operations.
In Florida, the FBI continued its investigation into the death of one man from anthrax, and the exposure of his co-worker to the deadly disease.
“It remains a situation of concern with the federal government,'' said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, as officials offered antibiotics as a precaution to hundreds who worked in the same building as the two men. Fleischer added, however, that “it's not unusual at times like this for false alarms to go off.''
Taliban officials in Afghanistan disclosed the onset of nighttime bombing by American warplanes. A Bush administration official offered confirmation, although refused to be identified by name.
It marked the third straight night of attacks by American-led forces. But even before night fell, pilots flew strikes sporadically throughout the day, a sign of increased confidence that whatever air defenses the ruling Taliban regime possessed had largely been suppressed.
“Air operations are continuing, and there won't be obvious starts and stops,'' a Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Dave Lapan, said.
He acknowledged that daytime flights following a two-night bombardment signal U.S. confidence that its aircraft are reasonably safe from antiaircraft fire.
He said some of the ongoing strikes are going after specific targets, while other planes are sent out with a bomb load and told to hunt for “targets of opportunity.''
Taliban officials said Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, had survived the American assault.
Abdul Salam Zaeff, the Taliban envoy to Pakistan, told reporters the United States had spurned Afghanistan's request for evidence of bin Laden's involvement. “America is sending warplanes, bombs and cruise missiles in place of evidence,'' he said.
Administration officials said there was proof enough even before bin Laden's videotaped message released on Sunday praising the attacks that killed thousands and taunting America as a nation afraid.
One day after former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge was sworn in as the nation's first director of homeland security, the administration was adding new top-level officials to the effort. Administration sources said Richard Clarke, who heads the government's counterterrorism team, will direct the security effort for the nation's information systems. Retired Gen. Wayne Downing was tapped to work with military and intelligence resources, these officials said.
United Nations officials confirmed the deaths of four security guards for a mine-clearing program in Afghanistan, the first independent verification of civilian casualties in the U.S.-led war effort.
U.N. spokeswoman Stephanie Bunker said the four had been spending the night in their office, on the edge of Kabul, and in close proximity to a radio transmission target that was a target of bombs.
“It was assumed they were safe where they were,'' said Ms. Bunker, speaking from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. “Otherwise they would have been relocated for sure.''
In an appeal to the United States, she said, “People need to distinguish between combatants and those innocent civilians who do not bear arms.''
There was no immediate administration response to the reported civilian deaths.
“It's inevitable there will be mistakes that take place in a situation where the lines remain unclear,'' said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. McCain, who made his comments in an interview on ABC's “Good Morning America,'' was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam war, and an American prisoner of war.
Pentagon officials provided no details on the targets of the third night of attacks.
There were signs the warplanes were running short on targets, though, and officials declined to say what follow-up plans they had for special operations forces or other personnel.
Pilots flying from the USS Enterprise in the Arabian Sea returned from Monday night's bombing runs with unused live bombs, the carrier's captain said.
“It's not a real target-rich environment,'' the officer said, referring to a nation that has been involved in warfare for much of the past two decades. The captain could not be identified by name under Pentagon rules.
American officials have identified bin Laden as the leading force behind the Sept. 11 attacks that killed more than 5,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a plane crash in the southwestern Pennsylvania countryside.
Officials warn daily of the possibility of further terrorist strikes “Every American should be vigilant,'' Attorney General John Ashcroft said yesterday and the FBI launched an investigation during the day into the exposure of a second Florida man to anthrax. One man died of the extremely rare disease last week, and health officials said they found the germ in the nasal passage of a co-worker as well as on a keyboard inside the building where both worked.
“We regard this as an investigation that could become a clear criminal investigation,'' Mr. Ashcroft said. “We don't have enough information to know whether this could be related to terrorism or not.''
Health officials offered antibiotics to several hundred people as a precaution and the FBI sealed off the Boca Raton building housing several supermarket tabloids where both men worked. Agents donned protective gear before going inside.
There was another scare yesterday, when one of the travelers aboard an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles was subdued by co-pilots and other passengers after he tried to barge into the cockpit. The 30-year-old man was described as mentally ill not a terrorist but two military fighters escorted the plane to a safe landing in Chicago after the incident.
In yesterday's action over Afghanistan, five long-range bombers a pair of B-2 stealth bombers flying from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., and three B-1Bs from the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia joined 10 strike planes launched from aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea. They targeted air defense and other military targets across Afghanistan.
The destroyers USS John Paul Jones and USS McFaul and one submarine launched a total of 15 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

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