Taliban anticipating massive US attacks, vows revenge

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Friday, September 14 3:28 PM SGT

Taliban anticipating massive US attack, vows revenge

KABUL, Sept 14 (AFP) -

Afghanistan's Taliban said Friday it expected to be hit by a massive attack by the United States and vowed that it would take revenge.

"We are ready to pay any price to defend ourselves and to use all means take our revenge," a spokesman for the Islamic militia's supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar told AFP by satellite phone from the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

The spokesman's comments came a day after the United States said for the first time that it considered Osama bin Laden a suspect in the investigation into Tuesday's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

"Now they are indicating in clear words that they are going to strike," the spokesman, Abdul Hai Mutmaen, said. The spokesman said he expected the attack to be far more extensive than the limited cruise missile strikes launched by the US in 1998 over bin Laden's alleged involvement in the bombing of American embassies in Africa.

"It will be at a very high level. Last time they only attempted to strike a (bin Laden) camp. This time they want to eliminate the whole system and government."

Despite the impending threat of US military action, the Taliban has refused to hand bin Laden over. In a statement issued on Thursday, Omar said bin Laden could not have orchestrated the attacks on the US. An English version of Omar's statement was presented to the international press in Islamabad on Friday.

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), September 14, 2001

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