KABUL, Afghanistan – In the first daylight raid since U.S.-led attacks against Afghanistan began, jets bombed the stronghold of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia in southern Kandahar hours after dawn Tuesday, Taliban officials said.
Video: U.S. Assesses Damage After First Wave of Air Strikes
There was no immediate confirmation that the aircraft were part of the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism, though it seemed likely. Kandahar's location in the south of Afghanistan is far from any air strips belonging to the anti-Taliban northern opposition, and the opposition's aircraft capability is limited.
Taliban soldiers replied with heavy anti-aircraft fire as the planes streaked over Kandahar at about 8:15 a.m. Mohammed Ahmed, a Taliban official in Kandahar, confirmed the attacks.
The strike on Kandahar, the seat of the rigorously Islamic Taliban militia that rules Afghanistan, came shortly after a lone, unidentified jet screamed through the early dawn sky over the capital, Kabul, dropping a bomb north of the city near the airport.
Shortly afterward missiles streaked into the eastern edge of the capital as Taliban anti-aircraft gunners replied with a quick burst of fire.
A Pentagon official told Fox News that the U.S. operations are now "continuous" and that "nobody should be surprised" by the daylight airstrikes.
Hours earlier, on Monday night, a second wave of attacks on terrorist targets inside Afghanistan began in Kabul, almost precisely 24 hours after the first.
On Monday, five long-range bombers — a pair of B-2 stealth bombers flying from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., and three B-1B's from the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia — joined 10 strike aircraft launched from aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea in sending bombs and missiles at air defense and other military targets across Afghanistan. The Pentagon initially said 10 bombers were involved but it later corrected the number to five.
Two U.S. Navy ships, the destroyers USS John Paul Jones and USS McFaul, and one submarine launched a total of 15 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
In Sunday's opening assault, 15 bombers and 25 carrier-based strike aircraft participated. A British submarine was among the vessels that fired 50 cruise missiles in Sunday's attacks but no Britsh forces were involved Monday, U.S. officials said.
Senior Pentagon officials said early indications were that strikes against air defense sites and airfields were at least partially successful, although it was less clear in the case of "leadership targets" — leaders of both the Al Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban militia that harbors the terrorists.
The Taliban denied an Iranian News Agency report that Afghan Aviation Minister Akhtar Mohammed Mansour was killed during the air raids by U.S. and British forces Sunday night: "It is absolutely false. Mansour is fine," said Abdul Hai Muttmain, a Taliban spokesman contacted by telephone in the southern city of Kandahar.
He also said Usama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar were unhurt in the attacks. Bin Laden is the suspected terrorist mastermind held responsible by the United States for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. Omar is the Taliban leader.
Muttmain said Monday's assault was less severe than the first wave of attacks by the U.S.-British coalition Sunday night. "They were not as strong as the first night. They didn't hit any military targets," he said. "The people's morale is high."
About 20 minutes after the anti-aircraft fire began in Kabul on Monday, explosions could be heard in the northern, eastern and western sections of the city. The Reuters news service reported that four bombs had landed at the airport.
There were definite reports of at least three bombs striking the Kabul area Monday — one each in the eastern, western and northern sections of the city, the respective locations of a TV transmission tower, the airport and an abandoned fort. The Afghan Islamic Press agency in Islamabad, Pakistan, said the airport and a hill where the transmitter is located were both targets.
Pentagon sources said Kandahar was also struck on Monday. Kandahar has an airport and housing for Al Qaeda members and is the hometown of Omar.
Taliban positions around the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif were also under attack Monday, the Afghan press agency reported. Ashraf Nadim, a spokesman for the opposition Northern Alliance, said by telephone that his forces were tipped off by the United States a half hour before Monday's attacks.
Nadim, speaking from Samangan province, about 30 miles from Mazar-e-Sharif, said U.S. aircraft and missiles were launched against Taliban positions there.
The Afghan press agency said the Northern Alliance launched a major attack Monday evening on the Taliban position near Dara-e-Suf, in northern Samangan.
Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the fresh bombardment was accompanied by a renewed air drop of humanitarian assistance, about the same amount or more than the 37,000-pound delivery Monday morning.
At the Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld repeated strongly that this is merely the first phase of the military operation.
"They have very few targets that can be hit from the air," he said. "Much of the country is rubble. They do not have high-value targets or assets that would lend themselves to attacks from the air. We are doing that which is doable and forms part of a larger campaign. The problem is not going to be solved by a cruise missile."
The larger plan, Rumsfeld stressed, will include the use of ground forces, such as special-operations groups.
The Taliban were already coming under ground attack, though. Taliban troops were reported to be firing surface-to-surface missiles, presumably toward forces of the Northern Alliance, about 12 miles north of Kabul. Reuters reported a major offensive by alliance forces into the capital city.
Taliban radio ordered residents to close the blinds on their windows, shut off all lights and remain indoors.
Hours earlier, Taliban radio said that the U.S. target was not bin Laden. They said Afghans were willing to lay down their lives in the struggle over bin Laden and that the allied strikes were aimed at a "pure" Islamic government.
The radio also derided Sunday night's strikes as a failure.
"The American bombardment and rocket attacks didn't hit their targets," it said.
Monday morning, a senior defense official speaking on condition of anonymity said the second wave of attacks would hit again at the Taliban's military airfields, tanks and MiG fighters. The attacks would use hunter-strike aircraft from naval ships in the region and fewer long-range bombers, the official said.
Also, in an indication the United States might want someday to expand the military operation, a senior administration official said Monday that formal notification had been sent to the U.N. Security Council that counterterrorism attacks may be extended beyond Afghanistan.
A legal document sent Sunday to the council reaffirmed the attack on the Taliban was an act of self-defense under the U.N. charter and said the United States reserves the right to strike at terrorist cells beyond the South Asian country, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
As for the initial round of military targets, "We know they were successfully hit in many respects," Rumsfeld said. He said that the assault targeted two to three dozen sites, including terrorist training camps, military airfields, military aircraft, air defense radars and surface-to-air missile sites.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer made clear the campaign was not aimed solely at bin Laden.
"This is not about any one person," he said. "If Usama bin Laden was gone today, the war would continue."
Bush said Sunday the operation was undertaken with the cooperation of more than 40 countries that offered landing rights, the use of air space or other assistance.
"We are supported by the collective will of the world," he said.
But the number of nations pledging to contribute forces was much smaller — Bush identified Canada, Germany, France and Australia as countries that will join the United States and Britain in the direct military effort.
The strikes struck a supportive chord in Russia, an important backer of the U.S.-led campaign. Bush had called Russian President Vladimir Putin before the attack.
Fox News' Andrew Hard and The Associated Press contributed to this report.