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Taliban says bin Laden may wage holy war

A border guard patrols a ridge outside Afghanistan on Wednesday Keystone

As US bombs rained on Afghanistan in reprisal for attacks which killed thousands of people in the United States, the Taliban on Wednesday lifted restrictions on terrorism suspect Osama bin Laden, saying he was free to wage a holy war against the United States.

This content was published on October 10, 2001 - 12:12

Taliban spokesman Abdul Hai Mutmaen said bin Laden, who had previously been under strict supervision with communications cut and his activities curtailed, could now operate as he wanted.

"With the start of the American attacks, these restrictions are no longer in place," he said. He spoke after a third night of US-led air raids on Taliban military targets and bases run by bin Laden and his al Qaeda group, which Washington has called a terrorist network.

The southern city of Kandahar has been among those targeted in the bombings, since it is the headquarters of the Taliban's reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar. In previous strikes, a missile has hit the house formerly used by Omar, but the Taliban said he was unhurt.

The latest strikes are also believed to have blasted the airport on the outskirts of Herat, close to the Iranian border.

In Kabul, Taliban gunners opened heavy bursts of anti-aircraft fire and the roar of jets could be heard overheard. However, there was no immediate indication of any bombing.

Taliban vows revenge

A spokesman for al Qaeda blamed the United States for the September 11 suicide attacks on New York and Washington, in which hijacked commercial planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York, and the Pentagon, near Washington, DC.

The spokesman, Sulaiman Bu Ghaith said in a televised video statement that "Americans should know, the storm of the planes will not stop."

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumseld said the raids had eliminated most of the airfields in Afghanistan.

"We have struck several terrorist training camps. We have damaged most of the airfields, I believe all but one, as well as their anti-aircraft and launchers," said Rumsfeld. "We believe we are now able to carry out strikes more or less around the clock, as we wish."

Four killed in raids

Rescue workers dug through the rubble of a United Nations-funded office on the outskirts of Kabul on Tuesday to recover the remains of four men killed by a missile as they slept.

The four worked with the UN to clear landmines in Afghanistan.

swissinfo with agencies

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