U.S. Drops Bombs, Leaflets in Afghanistan

The United States carried out its heaviest daytime bombing raids on Kabul today, even as it started a propaganda campaign aimed at winning over the Afghan people.

The U.S.' aerial campaign — intended to root out the country's Taliban regime and terrorist leader Osama bin Laden — intensified with fighter jets pounding targets around the Afghan capital and a suspected terrorist training camp in eastern Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press.

The United States has also begun dropping leaflets in Afghanistan in addition to food, and is beginning radio broadcasts to explain its campaign to the Afghan people.

One B-52 bomber dropped 400,000 leaflets in Afghanistan today. Printed in a variety of languages, their message reads, "The partnership of nations is here to help," and shows a picture of a Western-looking soldier shaking hands with an Afghan.

With bin Laden and other members of his al Qaeda network dominating the airwaves in the Arab and Muslim world, the Bush administration launched a public relations counter-offensive on television, with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice giving an interview today to the influential Qatar station al Jazeera.

And ABCNEWS has learned the Department of Education is exploring ways to link schoolchildren in the United States to Muslim-world counterparts.

Rumsfeld: Taliban Quick to Claim Casualties

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today dismissed Taliban claims that at least 200 civilians have been killed since the bombing began on Oct. 5. He said the United States had no way of confirming the claims.

"I think that we know of certain knowledge that the Taliban leadership and al Qaeda are accomplished liars, that they go on television and they say things that we know are absolutely not true," Rumsfeld said during a briefing at the Pentagon.

In the last 24 hours, the Taliban took a group of reporters to sites in Afghanistan it said were civilian areas that were hit by U.S. bombs or missiles, but Rumsfeld pointed out that the journalists were shepherded by the regime's guides, and were not allowed to see other areas they requested access to.

He also warned that some civilian casualties were unavoidable, but said the importance of the mission demanded that the campaign be carried out.

"On occasion, there will be people hurt that one wished had not been," he said. "I don't think there's any way in the world to avoid that and defend the United States from the kinds of terrorist attacks which we've experienced."

The question of civilian casualties has gained renewed importance, as a key U.S. ally, Pakistan, today expressed concern about the reports of innocent lives being lost in Afghanistan and pressed for America to curtail the bombing. Refugees fleeing the bombing reportedly say that support for the Taliban is growing in the country.

Pakistan's leaders have supported the U.S. military campaign to destroy Taliban defenses in Afghanistan as part of broader efforts to capture bin Laden and the leaders of his al Qaeda network, but the Muslim country has been wracked by anti-American demonstrations.

Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Islamabad today, and high on his agenda is to reassure Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that the United States will continue to support him, and to thank him for providing aid for U.S. military action despite the unpopularity of the move in his own country.

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