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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Unleashes New Wave of Strikes

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Heavy bursts of anti-aircraft fire ripped the night sky over Kabul on Monday, heralding a second night of American attacks aimed at the Taliban government and accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

As the new bombardment began, the Taliban insisted previous strikes had missed their mark.

Targets in Monday's raids included areas around the capital, the Taliban's home base of Kandahar, and Afghanistan's north, where an opposition rebel alliance is battling the Taliban, the austere Islamic movement that controls nearly all of Afghanistan.

At least three bombs fell Monday night in the Kabul area -- one each to the north, west and east of the city. The targets were unclear, but the airport is to the city's north, a TV transmission tower to the west and an abandoned fort in the east.

Taliban gunners responded to the latest barrage with sustained anti-aircraft fire. One high-flying plane could be seen dropping flares before the detonations. Power was cut in the capital, and Taliban radio ordered people to close their blinds, shut off the lights and stay indoors.

Other strikes hit the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, a Taliban official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Taliban positions around the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif were also under attack by aircraft and missiles, a spokesman for the opposition northern alliance, Ashraf Nadim, said by telephone from northern Samangan province.

In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush vowed to be "relentless" in fighting terrorism "on all fronts."

"Strikes are continuing as we speak," said Air Force General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He said the fresh bombardment -- bombs delivered by 20 warplanes as well as cruise missiles launched from ships -- was accompanied by a renewed airdrop of humanitarian assistance.

In an indication the United States might want to some day expand the military operation, a senior administration official said formal notification had been sent to the Security Council that counterterrorism attacks may be extended beyond Afghanistan.

The U.S.-led military campaign is aimed at punishing the Taliban for harboring bin Laden, the man accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

In addition to Kabul and Kandahar, the first night of strikes Sunday targeted Jalalabad, along the Pakistani border, and Mazar-i-Sharif. The compound of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in Kandahar, as well as training bases of bin Laden's al-Qaida network were also hit in the first night's assault.

British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said 30 sites had been hit.

Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, chief of the British defense staff, said some of the camps may have been empty. Still, he said, "There is certainly merit in denying those camps further use. And that is what we have done."

British forces participated in the initial bombardment, but not Monday's, defense officials in London said.

Taliban radio on Monday derided the previous night's strikes as a failure. "The American bombardment and rocket attacks didn't hit their targets," it said.

Taliban officials said about 20 people, including women, children and the elderly, had been killed.

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested there was much left to do after the first night's assault. "We believe we've made progress toward eliminating the air defense sites," he said. "We believe we've made an impact on military airfields. ... We cannot yet state with certainty we have destroyed dozens of command-and-control and other military targets," he said.

Tajikistan said Monday that it would allow U.S. forces to use its air bases for military actions in Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

"The republic of Tajikistan has declared its readiness to open its airspace to the U.S. Air Force and, should it prove necessary, its airports for carrying out measures against terrorism," a government statement said.

This was the first such declaration by the country, which has a 1,300-kilometer border with Afghanistan. Tajikistan had previously said only that it was ready to help the fight against "terrorism," without any specific measures.

Shortly before Monday's attacks began, the Taliban released a British journalist and handed her over to Pakistani authorities, border officials said, the AP reported. Yvonne Ridley, a reporter for Britain's Sunday Express newspaper, had been arrested in Afghanistan 10 days earlier after allegedly sneaking into the country.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said Monday that thousands of U.S. law enforcement agencies, businesses and utilities have been warned to stay on high alert "while we win this war" on terrorism, the AP reported.

With 614 individuals detained or arrested, Ashcroft said more than 18,000 law enforcement organizations and 27,000 corporate security managers have been notified to be alert during U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan.

Ashcroft said authorities are looking for another 229 individuals in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks.

A second case of anthrax exposure drew FBI scrutiny in Florida, where a 63-year-old year-old man died of the disease last week, the AP reported.

The anthrax bacteria was found in the nasal passage of a co-worker of a man who died last week from the disease. The building where both worked was closed after the bacteria also were detected there.

Ashcroft said authorities viewed the second case of anthrax exposure very seriously. He said the government had sealed the building where the two men worked. Without additional laboratory results and other investigative steps, he said, "We are unable to make a conclusive statement about the nature of this as either an attack or an occurrence" that is natural in origin.

Syria won a seat on the UN Security Council on Monday with overwhelming support from the nations of the world, despite being on the U.S. list of countries sponsoring terrorism, the AP reported.

The General Assembly elected Syria to the powerful UN body for a two-year term on the first ballot. It received 160 "yes" votes from the 177 nations voting.

Guinea, Cameroon and Bulgaria were also elected on the first ballot. Mexico defeated the Dominican Republic for a Latin American seat.

Syria was the unanimous choice of Arab and Asian nations for the Asian seat on the council being vacated by Bangladesh on Jan. 1. Candidates that have unanimous regional support are almost always elected.

Last year, the United States led a successful campaign to keep Sudan, also on the U.S. list of terrorism sponsors, off the council.