The United States today launched bombs and missiles in a second consecutive day of attacks on targets in Afghanistan.
U.S. sources told ABCNEWS the Pentagon plans to bomb for three days and then will pause and see what happens. Under that scenario, Tuesday would be the end of the first phase of airstrikes but sources said a fourth and fifth day could be added if targets need to be restruck.
Military officials concede they may already be running out of targets that are worth dropping bombs on in Afghanistan.
While many of the targets were the same as those struck in the first attacks — air defense nodes, radars, tanks — fewer than half the U.S. aircraft used used Sunday participated in the attacks today, sources said.
There were reports that electricity to the Afghan capital, Kabul, was cut for the second night in a row, and news agencies reported anti-aircraft fire was visible in the night sky.
A senior Taliban Health Ministry official said six to eight people died in the first round of raids.
Part of a Strategy
U.S. officials previously stressed the Taliban has few "high value" targets that can be pinpointed from the air. Pentagon officials said a major objective of the attacks is to eliminate the Taliban's limited air defense capabilities that might threaten U.S. aircraft, including those used to airdrop humanitarian aid.
The Islamic Republic News Agency is reporting that the commander of the Taliban air force was among those killed by the first round of attacks.
Another U.S. objective was to alter the balance of forces in the country in favor of armed forces opposing Taliban, namely the Northern Alliance. The alliance, also known as the United Front, is a collection of rival, self-interested militia groups allied to oppose Taliban rule.
And there was evidence of some progress on that front. After the first round of strikes, Northern Alliance forces began efforts to cut off supply routes to Taliban controlled cities in the north and west. But those forces, many of them teenagers, are believed largely outnumbered and have yet to attack Taliban strongholds in the south.
A third objective is psychological, to send a message. That was why, Pentagon sources said, the United States bombed the homes of bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar though neither man was expected to be there, and several terrorist training camps though intelligence had indicated they were all but empty. The United States also is hoping to persuade Taliban members and supporters to switch sides.
"We know cruise missiles and bombers are not going to solve this problem," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today. "We know that. What they can do is contribute by adding pressure."
'Executed as Planned'
All the aircraft involved in the bombing Sunday night were back at their bases at dawn, and ground crews began immediately loading new bombs, apparently in preparation for another set of raids.
"Based on our early assessment, we believe that we have made progress toward eliminating the air defense sites that have located around the country," Rumsfeld said. "We also believe we made an impact on the military air fields that were targeted. We cannot yet state with certainty that we destroyed the dozens of military command and control and leadership targets we selected."
Today, President Bush said the first round of attacks were "executed as planned," as he addressed a ceremony to swear in the new homeland security chief, Tom Ridge, who until last week was governor of Pennsylvania.
Ridge was sworn as head of the Office of Homeland Security, a new Cabinet-level post created by Bush to focus on anti-terrorist efforts in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks that left thousands of people dead or missing in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Rumsfeld said that though bin Laden's group al Qaeda and the Taliban are the focus of the current efforts, the goal of the administration is to try to put an end to terrorism around the globe.
"These strikes are part of a much larger effort against worldwide terrorism, one that will be sustained and which is wide-ranging," he said. "It will likely be sustained for a period of years, not weeks or months."
And today in a letter, the United States warned the U.N. Security Council it may have to launch strikes on countries other than Afghanistan.
"We may find that our self-defense requires further actions with respect to other organizations and other states," the letter said in part.
Though U.S. officials downplayed the importance of the letter, calling it nothing more than a formality, it could only reinforce fears throughout the Muslim world that there could soon be new targets of the U.S.-led military action.
"We are at the brink of a big war launched first against Islamic states and Muslim people and there are threats against other Muslim states," Iraq Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said today.
The Iraqi official made the remarks to the Qatari News Agency in Doha, Qatar, where he and other foreign ministers are gathering for an emergency summit of the 56-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference to be held on Wednesday. The OIC has condemned the terrorist attacks on the United States.
Defending the Attacks
The Taliban reported there were 20 civilian casualties in Sunday's strikes, but that could not be independently confirmed and according to eyewitness accounts from Kabul, life in the Afghan capital was hardly different from normal the morning after the bombing.
About two hours after the bombs started falling on targets around Afghanistan, U.S. planes began dropping food and other humanitarian aid, as part of the campaign to convince the world that the military action is aimed against terrorists and a government that supports them, not the people of Afghanistan.
"We're not against the Afghan people," Rumsfeld said. "The Taliban have been repressing the Afghan people. The Afghan people are against the Taliban and against al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is a foreign influence in their country."
Bin Laden and his organization al Qaeda are suspected of being behind the Sept. 11 attacks that flattened the World Trade Center and destroyed part of the Pentagon.
The strikes were intended, primarily, to hit the Taliban's air defenses, airports and warplanes, making it safer for U.S. military aircraft to operate in the region and airdrop food and medicine to Afghan refugees, U.S. officials said.
In other developments today:
New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said today that 4,815 people are still missing from the World Trade Center, 417 bodies or individual remains have been recovered and 366 have been identified.
Federal investigators are focusing on a building in Boca Raton, Fla., where two men who tested positive for anthrax were employed. One of the men has died. The building houses the national headquarters of the company that publishes The National Enquirer, and other supermarket tabloids.
Violent demonstration took place in Pakistan, Kashmir and Bangladesh, resulting in at lease one reported death in Quetta Pakistan, where police opened fire on demonstrators. Pakistani President Musharraf said he hoped the American action in Afghanistan would be a short one.
The Taliban released British Journalist Yvonne Ridley and escorted her to the Pakistani border. Ridley had been arrested for entering the country illegally to cover stories for the London Sunday Express.
NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said the Sept. 11 attacks showed the clear need for NATO member states to share more intelligence: "We have to consider how we're going to deal with it in the short, medium and long term, what will have to change about NATO's capabilities, NATO's strategy, its thinking, its way of operating, given the fact that the unthinkable has happened."