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Britain: 30 Targets Hit in Initial Attacks - 2001-10-08

British defense officials say 30 terrorist and military targets across Afghanistan were hit in the initial attacks by U.S. and British forces.

British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon says the targets hit overnight Sunday included military airfields, air defense systems and terrorist camps.

He says the campaign could go on for some time and might include ground forces in the future. "Military action against terrorism has only just begun," said Mr. Hoon. "We and all our allies and partners are determined to root out terrorism wherever we find it. We are committed to a relentless, deliberate and sustained campaign aimed at securing our objectives."

The British military chief of staff, Admiral Michael Boyce, explained the goals of the campaign. He said the objective is to wipe out the terrorist capabilities of the al-Qaida network, which is blamed for the attacks that killed more than 5,000 people last month in the United States. "The strikes aim to damage, disrupt and destroy all al-Qaida terrorist network camps and also, at the same time, those elements of the military infrastructure of the Taleban supporters that have allowed Afghanistan to be used as a base for terrorism across the world," he said.

Admiral Boyce said "enormous care" had been taken to avoid any civilian casualties, and that 23 of the 30 targets were in remote regions away from any cities. The admiral also cautioned that the fight against terrorism will take some time. "Last night was not just a single strike. We know that defeating international terrorism and its supporters can be neither easy nor quick. Our armed forces are ready," he said, "ready for a long haul and resolved to make their full contribution to the victory I am sure, I am confident, we will have at the end of the day."

As he spoke, Britain was deploying reconnaissance and refueling tanker aircraft toward the region around Afghanistan to support more operations in the coming days.