'TALIBAN GONE - BIN LADEN GONE - BUSH KEEPS BOMBING - 16 JAN 2002'
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Wednesday 16 January 2002 06:02:21am
The Mirror Pictures
100 DAYS ON... AND STILL WE KEEP BOMBING
By ANDY LINES in New York and TOM NEWTON DUNN in Kabul
There was no let-up in the relentless bombing as the Pentagon pointed to the fact that many al-Qaeda troops are hiding in the mountains.
And they revealed that US soldiers found an arms cache including ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades hidden in caves and tunnels near Kandahar airport, where Marines are holding al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees.
But despite the £1.4billion worth of firepower unleashed on the nation, US spy chiefs said last night Osama bin Laden fled Afghanistan in December with henchman Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
They could be in Indonesia where they have huge support.
A CIA source said: "This is not good news. Bin Laden and his top assistant can reconstitute now in places where they have known bases."
Up until day 102 of the war today 16 American have been killed - but only two by the enemy.
Three Green Berets were killed by a US bomb near Kandahar, seven Marines died in a plane crash in Pakistan last week and four military personnel were killed in accidents.
Meanwhile an estimated 4,050 innocent Afghan civilians, more than the number of dead in the September 11 attacks, have been killed by at least 12,000 US strikes.
Professor Marc Herold, of the University of New Hampshire, reached the figure by monitoring reports from around the world.
He said: "The critical element remains the very low value put on Afghan civilian lives by US military planners and the political elite."
Villagers have developed a knack for knowing when the bombs are coming. When planes make a low rumble above the mountains of Zhawar, people are cautious. But when their engines make a deafening roar they run for cover.
Khali Gul said: "We are very afraid of these planes. We just want it to stop."
Noorz Ali, his village flattened by US bombs, added: "There were so many bombs I lost count. The dead remain in the village, everybody else has left."
The Taliban regime is destroyed and thousands of al-Qaeda troops have been killed or fled, but Afghanistan still suffers. Other nations agreed to give £14million. But by January 1 only a 10th was given. The UN warns of collapse unless £70million is handed over in days.
People are dying of disease and starvation. Mountain villages south of Mazar-e-Sharif are snowed in. In some towns people are trying to survive on grass.
The average life expectancy is 40 and the mortality rate for children under five is 25.7 per cent.
But Pakistan is refusing to let more than 13,000 refugees into a border camp - leaving them living in the open on a bitterly cold, windswept plain.
COMMENT BY GEOFF HOON, DEFENCE SECRETARY
IT IS more than 100 days since the US, with strong UK support, began military action in Afghanistan.
Since October 7 coalition forces have achieved outstanding success.
Very few believed we would come as far and as quickly as we have.
Al-Qaeda terrorist training camps have been destroyed. The Taliban regime has been removed from power and replaced.
We are now leading efforts to help with reconstruction via the International Security Assistance Force which will offer the security and stability needed to establish a new government and rebuild a country ruined by more than 20 years of war.
The UK contribution to a force of 5,000 will be up to 1,800 troops. We are also sending 300 troops to help rebuild Kabul Airport.
Military action continues. Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar are still at large and the al-Qaeda terrorists still represent a real threat.
That is why air strikes continue. Operations at Zhawar Kili, for example, targeted a complex of 60 buildings and 50 caves, many still fit for use by terrorists.
[TVOTW NOTE: What about something left for the Afghan population??]
Al-Qaeda must never again be allowed to establish safe havens from which to mount attacks like those of September 11.
[FURTHER TVOTW NOTE -]
Formal requests and demands were made by the new interim administration in Afghanistan on 7 December 2001 for Bush to stop the bombing. He and the US Executive branch of government refused.
[IS THERE ANY NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE??]
TVOTW - ICOPO
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