U.S. Strikes Afghanistan; Bush Vows Aid for Its People

Food and Medicine Promised as Missile Offensive Commences

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WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 7, 2001 (Zenit.org).- This morning´s strike by American and British forces against military targets in Afghanistan will be accompanied by humanitarian aid for the Afghan people, according to U.S. President George W. Bush.

U.S. and British forces unleased 50 cruise missiles against what they described as terrorist targets, a response for the Sept. 11 attacks that murdered thousands in New York and Washington, D.C.

Bush said the military strike would soon be accompanied by the delivery of food, medicine and other supplies needed to sustain the people of Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press.

The president said the strike was aimed at the Taliban, the ruling regime that harbors Osama bin Laden, long identified by U.S. officials as the mastermind behind last month´s attacks.

«We will not waiver, we will not tire,» said Bush, speaking from the White House. «We will not falter and we will not fail.»

In a response aired less than two hours later, bin Laden vowed that Americans would not know safety and security until Afghanistan does. «America is full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that,» he said in a videotaped statement prepared before the attacks began.

One Western official said targets included air defenses, military communications sites and terrorist training camps inside Afghanistan. «This is going to be a prolonged, sustained effort over several days,» the official told the AP.

Bush cited the participation of British forces in the initial assault as evidence of the international coalition the administration has built in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The president added, «Other close friends, including Canada, Australia, Germany and France, have pledged forces as the operation unfolds.»

From London, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: «We have set the objectives to eradicate Osama bin Laden´s network of terror and to take action against the Taliban regime that is harboring them.»

This morning, Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell began making calls to world leaders to explain the U.S. action. Bush spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin in advance of the strike, the Kremlin press office said.

Putin has become a key supporter of the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, opening Russian airspace to U.S. deliveries of humanitarian aid and helping lobby Central Asian nations to lend their backing to the operation.

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