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War on terrorism starts

PUBLISHED: 19:50 07 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:37 03 March 2010

US President George Bush said tonight America was "supported by the will of the world" as it went to war with Osama bin Laden and his Taliban protectors.

US President George Bush said tonight America was "supported by the will of the world" as it went to war with Osama bin Laden and his Taliban protectors.

President Bush addressed the nation as explosions rocked the Afghan capital Kabul. British forces are involved in the attacks.

The Taliban had been given a clear ultimatum two weeks ago, the President said.

"None of those demands were met and now the Taliban will pay a price,'' he said.

The terrorist forces would attempt to hide from the onslaught but would find no shelter, President Bush vowed.

He warned of a long war ahead but said: "We will win this conflict through the patient accumulation of successes.''

President Bush also signalled that the war on terror would not end with the attack on Afghanistan.

"Every nation has a choice to make in this conflict. There is no neutral ground,'' he said.

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The attack reportedly began with missile strikes from British and US ships.

The Islamabad-based Afghan Islamic Press agency quoted the Taliban as saying planes had bombed areas near the Kabul airport in the northern part of the city.

Prime Minister Tony Blair may give more details of UK involvement when he makes an address from 10 Downing Street.

There were immediate fears for British journalist Yvonne Ridley, thought to be within hours of leaving Kabul when the attack began.

The Taliban had announced she was free to go this morning after being detained since September 28 for entering the country illegally.

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In his address to the American people Mr Bush said: "More than two weeks ago I gave the Taliban's leaders a series of clear and specific demands.

"None of those demands were met and now the Taliban will pay the price.

"By destroying camps and disrupting communications we will make it more difficult for the terrorists to recruit and train their followers.

"Our military action is designed to clear the way for a sustained campaign and real action to clear them out and bring them to justice.''

But he said there would be food drops to the people of Afghanistan and went on: "We will also drop supplies and food to the oppressed and starving Afghan people.

"We are friends of the Afghan people. We are friends with the almost a billion people worldwide who follow Islam.

"The United States is an enemy of those who aid and those who protect terrorists.

"This military action is part of our campaign against terrorism.

"Given the nature and reach of our enemies we will win this conflict by the patient accumulation of successes.

"Today we focus on Afghanistan but the battle is broader.''

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Mr Bush called for the patience of the American people and said: "There can be no peace in a world of sudden terror.

"The only way to pursue peace is to pursue the terrorists.

"I know many Americans feel fear today and our government is taking strong precautions.

"In times ahead our patience will be one of our strengths.''

And he said the American people had to be prepared for sacrifices.

"Today those sacrifices are being made by the members of our armed forces.

"A commander-in-chief sends the sons and daughters into battle on a foreign field with only the greatest of care and a great deal of prayer.

"To all the men and women in our military, I say this: your mission is defined, your objectives are clear, your goal is just.

"You have my full confidence and you will have every tool you need to fulfil your duty.

"The battle is now joined on many fronts. We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not fail.''

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The start of the conflict was announced in a brief statement from White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

"We are beginning another front in our war against terrorism so freedom can prevail over fear,'' he said.

Anti-aircraft fire was heard in Kabul where electricity was shut off almost immediately after the first of five blasts hit what is thought to have been the south west of the city.

The first explosions could be heard about 5.30pm UK time but there was no indication of what had caused them.

Further explosions were heard in the eastern city of Jalalabad and Kandahar, the headquarters of the Taliban.

Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said: "These operations have become inevitable. The Taliban have been given every opportunity to give up bin Laden and withdraw support from his terrorist network.

"Under international law these are legitimate targets.

"Every effort must be made to minimise civilian casualties.

"Once again the lives of the brave men and women of Britain's armed services are at risk. We wish them a safe return.''

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