Archive for Monday, October 22, 2001

U.S. prepared to deal justice with bullets

October 22, 2001

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— U.S. commandos are prepared to use deadly force on Osama bin Laden, the nation's top general said Sunday, as the Pentagon pressed its bombing and covert ground campaign to hunt down America's No. 1 terrorist suspect.

Opening a third week of air strikes, U.S. warplanes hit north of the capital, Kabul. And Afghan officials reported air attacks Sunday around the western city of Herat, Kandahar in the south and the front line positions near the city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Secret missions by special operations forces also were continuing, two defense officials said on condition of anonymity. They gave no details.

Asked whether U.S. forces would kill bin Laden on sight, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it depends on what happens when he's found.

"If it's a defensive situation, then bullets will fly, but if we can capture somebody, then we'll do that," he said on ABC's "This Week."

The U.S.-led military campaign already has crippled terrorists' bases and their ability to train in Afghanistan, Myers said.

"They won't be doing any training in the near future in Afghanistan," he said.

The aerial bombing began Oct. 7, followed by the first publicly acknowledged ground assaults Saturday.

In lightning strikes under cover of darkness, 100 airborne Army Rangers and other special forces hit a Taliban-controlled airfield and a residence of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar near the southern city of Kandahar. They destroyed a cache of weapons, killed an undetermined number of Taliban forces and accomplished their objectives, the Pentagon said.

They also left behind a message copies of a photo of firemen raising the American flag on the rubble of the World Trade Center superimposed with the words "Freedom Endures," a Pentagon official said.

Also Sunday, the British Broadcasting Corp. quoted an Afghan doctor as saying the 10-year-old son of Taliban leader Omar was killed during U.S.-led strikes. The boy died two weeks ago, on the first night of bombing raids on the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, Dr. Abdul Barri said.

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