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President George W Bush, in a nationally televised address, announced that the United States and British had begun military action against the Taleban militia in Afghanistan.
At 1 pm EDT, Bush, speaking from the White House Treaty Room, said, "On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against Al Qaeda training camps and the military installations of the Taleban regime."
"More than two weeks ago, I gave Taleban leaders a series of clear and specific demands: Close terrorist training camps, hand over leaders of the Al Qaeda network and return all foreign nationals, including American citizens unjustly detained in their country," Bush said. "None of these demands were met. And now, the Taleban will pay a price."
"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," Bush said.
Bush said that US and British forces were now in Afghanistan and were taking "targeted actions" against the Taleban's military capabilities.
"We will win this conflict by the patient accumulation of successes," Bush said from the White House Treaty Room.
The president reiterated that the strikes were against the Taleban, and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network and not against the people of Afghanistan. "Today, we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader," Bush said.
He said the US was being supported by around 40 countries. "We are supported by the collective will of the world."
Reports from Afghanistan indicated that cruise missiles launched from the US and British ships had hit areas near the Kabul airport and also in the southern city of Kandahar and Jalalabad.
Eyewitness reports out of Kabul said that the missiles had struck the defence ministry complex in the heart of Kabul.
"Huge columns of smoke can also be seen rising from the vicinity of Kabul airport," a report said.
Though the Taleban government had banned all movement of people and imposed a total curfew, citizens in defiance came out of their homes and were reported to be fleeing from the Afghan capital.
Meanwhile, missile strikes had also been reported from the strategic Taleban-held city of Mazhar-e-Sharif.
CNN meanwhile reported that according to a senior Taleban official in Kandahar, the command and radar systems at the Kandahar airport had been destroyed. However, the official added that the group did not rely entirely on that equipment.
In a clear indication that strikes were imminent, the US Air Force had, just a day ago, launched the KH-11 satellite, known popularly as the Keyhole. The satellite is capable of doing detailed imaging over every square inch of designated territory, from over 200 miles up in the sky.
The satellite's capabilities include being able to pick up movement on the ground of even small groups, besides being able to monitor telecommunications in the target area. The satellite was launched in order to help direct the attacks.
Transcript of Bush's Speech to the Nation
The Attack on America: The Complete Coverage
The Terrorism Weblog: Latest stories from round the world
External Link: For further coverage, please visit www.saja.org/roundupsept11.html
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