Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


U.S. pounds Afghanistan as anthrax fears mount

WASHINGTON/KABUL (REUTERS) — U.S. warplanes pounded Afghan troop and weapons sites into early Wednesday after hitting a Red Cross warehouse. This provoked an outcry from the international agency, which said food supplies for Afghans had been destroyed.

Meanwhile, anthrax scares kept the United States unnerved and forced evacuations at a Senate building in Washington and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

U.S. jets continued to hammer Afghanistan for an 11th consecutive night to force the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in last month’s mass killings in the United States.

Witnesses said at least one jet thundered across the curfew-bound capital of Kabul early Wednesday, dropping two powerful bombs on the city center. Witnesses said the plane was not met with anti-aircraft fire from Taliban positions on the ground.

In U.S. raids Tuesday, two bombs missed their target and slammed into a Red Cross warehouse in the center of Kabul, injuring a guard and leading to a protest from the group, which charged that vital supplies to help the Afghan people had been demolished. The Pentagon confirmed late Tuesday night that its planes had hit the warehouse.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell ended a visit to Pakistan, agreeing with military ruler Pervez Musharraf that the opposition Northern Alliance and the 87-year-old ex-king Zahir Shah would play roles in a future Afghan government. Musharraf also held out a role for moderates in the Taliban.


In Washington, parts of a Senate office building were shut to test ventilation systems, after tests found traces of the potentially deadly anthrax bacteria in a letter sent to Senate majority leader Tom Daschle.

In Cape Canaveral, the U.S. space agency evacuated an assembly and refurbishment building after the discovery of envelopes containing a suspicious white powdery substance.

They were the latest of several letters containing powder that have stoked widespread fears of bioterrorism across the nation and the world.

President Bush has said there could be a link between them and bin Laden, accused of masterminding Sept. 11 attacks by hijacked airliners that killed nearly 5,400 people in New York and Washington.

Daschle said he has tested negative for anthrax exposure, but added that he had been told the letter sent to his office contained “a very potent form of anthrax that clearly was produced by somebody who knew what he or she was doing.”

ABC News quoted officials as saying it was a very pure form of anthrax and very fine, allowing it to become easily airborne.

Officials said that the letters sent to NBC News and to Daschle’s office had similar handwriting and a Trenton, N.J., postmark.



On the military front, the U.S. sent one of the most devastating weapons in its arsenal into action for the first time in its war against terrorism, attacking the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar with an Air Force Special Forces AC-130.

The lumbering four-engine turboprop aircraft strikes at ground targets with pinpoint fire from 105mm cannon and rapid-fire machine guns.

The bombing of the Red Cross warehouse in Kabul prompted a furious reaction from International Committee of the Red Cross officials, who said the building was clearly marked as a civilian facility. Rescue workers tried to put out the warehouse blaze, but at least 35 percent of the food and other equipment stored at the facility was destroyed.

Marine Corps Lt.-Gen. Gregory Newbold told a Pentagon briefing U.S. planes went after Taliban targets around Kabul and the strategic northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which he said might soon fall to the opposition Northern Alliance.

“It’s our belief that Northern Alliance forces are very close to Mazar-i-Sharif,” he said. “You notice the airfield there — it’s about 10 km (6 miles) from the town, and I think there are Northern Alliance forces at the edge of that airfield.”

Newbold said the town was a critical crossroads for resupply of Taliban forces and losing it would be a major psychological blow.


In Kandahar, the attacks were so intense that residents were enveloped in a lung-racking mist of dust.

At least nine people were killed and 22 wounded there, the private Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) said.

Four civilians were killed and eight wounded in strikes on Lal Mohammad village, some 19 miles (30.5 km) to the northwest of Kandahar, Taliban Information Ministry official Abdul Hanan Himat told Reuters.

Northern Alliance foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, whose forces control only about 10 percent of Afghanistan, told reporters his group hoped to coordinate efforts with the U.S. “on all fronts to move against the Taliban where they are the weakest.”

On the diplomatic front, Powell and Musharraf looked to a post-Taliban government for the Central Asian country that has been devastated by war for more than two decades.

Musharraf’s invitation to moderate Taliban members may have been aimed at widening reported rifts between moderates and hard-liners as the U.S.-led military onslaught continues.

“Former King Zahir Shah, political leaders, moderate Taliban leaders, elements from the Northern Alliance, tribal elders, Afghans living outside their country all can play a role in this regard,” Musharraf told a joint news conference.

As part of a U.S. propaganda push, military planes dropped nearly a half-million leaflets over Afghanistan with a message in the local languages of Pashtu and Dari, saying the U.S. is not the enemy of the Afghan people.

Powell, who headed for India after his meetings with Musharraf, also said military action would not stop until all objectives had been met, but he hoped it would be short.

Complicating Powell’s task of holding together an international coalition against terrorism, verbal sparring between India and Pakistan over Kashmir exploded Monday night into sustained gun battles across the military Line of Control in the Himalayan territory, the most serious cross-border firing for almost a year.


The concern over anthrax spread Monday to Canada’s parliament and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s office in Berlin as well as to France, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, New Zealand and Israel, where letters and suspicious powder were discovered.

The United States remained the only country where the bacteria were so far confirmed, with the number of people exposed to the potentially deadly germs numbering at least 12. One man, who inhaled the bacteria, has died in Florida.

The anthrax alert has led to frayed nerves across the United States, with airliners making emergency stops, politicians keeping their schedules secret and buildings emptying if suspicious piles of white powder appear.

Tom Ridge, director of the White House Office of Homeland Security, told “NBC Nightly News” Tuesday there was not yet “credible evidence” to tie the anthrax panic to bin Laden’s al Qaeda network. “But … we ought to operate under the presumption that it is,” Ridge added.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *