Today's Developments, 10/16

Military Action:

• Air strikes targeted military bases and airports outside Kabul, the Taliban stronghold at Kandahar and the key northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

• U.S. forces attacked Kandahar with the Air Force Special Forces AC-130, a low-flying turbo-prop ground attack plane that can carry five gunners and is typically used to support ground forces, a senior defense official said.

• The Pentagon confirmed that U.S. strikes set Red Cross warehouses afire near Kabul, sending workers scrambling to salvage desperately needed relief goods during a bombardment that could be heard 30 miles away.

• A Taliban official said 13 civilians died in the pre-dawn assault at Kandahar and two were killed in today's attack on Mazar-e-Sharif, but the claims couldn't be independently verified.

• Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the Taliban still possess planes and helicopters and acknowledged that Afghan civilians have been unintended casualties of U.S. attacks.

• Fighters loyal to Afghan warlord Ismail Khan were battling with Taliban forces around the northwestern town of Qala Nau, on a key supply route for the Taliban to their troops in the north, Khan's spokesman said.

• Taliban forces were taking refuge in local mosques instead of staying at military bases in an attempt to make themselves less of a target, Afghan residents said.


• Saddam Hussein criticized Arab nations for doing little to oppose the U.S. air campaign against Afghanistan.

• President Bush's national security adviser went on Arabic television hoping to explain U.S. actions in Afghanistan, but the influential Al-Jazeera station repeatedly aired only comments likely to inflame Arab passions.

• Several thousand protesters, some lashing out at U.S. "murderers" in Afghanistan, banged drums and chanted slogans through the heart of Toronto's financial district.

• Jordan's King Abdullah told British Prime Minister Tony Blair the establishment of a Palestinian state was "inevitable" and the only guarantee of stability in the Middle East, a Jordanian official said.

• Authorities in northwestern Pakistan released a French reporter arrested last week for trying to cross the border illegally into Afghanistan, the French Foreign Ministry said.

• A Taliban official met secretly with senior officials in Pakistan and reportedly said moderates would agree to try to negotiate the handover of Usama bin Laden if the bombing stops for a few days, The New York Times reported.

• Legislation that would allow Japan's military to provide non-combat support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism passed a key parliamentary committee, officials said.

• Standing with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said his country would cooperate with American military efforts in neighboring Afghanistan for as long as it takes for the operation to be successful.

• Tribesmen waving Taliban flags strode across the border into Pakistan to condemn Musharraf for backing the U.S. attacks.

The Anthrax Scare:

• There may be a link between the letters sent to Tom Brokaw and Tom Daschle. Both pieces of mail contained anthrax, both carried a Trenton, N.J., postmark, and both had similar markings and messages.

• News organizations across New York City found themselves at the center of the news as investigators checked media mailrooms for anthrax.

• Ernesto Blanco, the second worker to be diagnosed with anthrax from a tabloid office in Florida, is recovering nicely after surgery, his stepdaughter said.

• City officials in New York performed environmental tests at the offices of ABC. They were looking for the source of the anthrax that infected the infant son of a network news producer. The child was taking antibiotics, and was expected to recover.

• The strain of anthrax found in the letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was described as "very potent." Eleven offices were closed in the building where the letter was found so authorities could check the ventilation system.

• The White House asked Congress for money to boost the government's stockpile of antibiotics to treat anthrax. The goal was to be able to treat 12 million people for 60 days.

• Nevada officials said all six people who may have come in contact with a contaminated letter at a Microsoft office have tested negative.

• U.S. officials suspect that some ex-Soviet scientists who worked on lethal germs have helped, or continue to help, rogue regimes.

• The Postal Service assembled a mail security task force in the wake of the anthrax scares.

The Investigation:

• President Bush said there may be a link between Usama bin Laden and several recent anthrax cases, but there is no hard evidence.

• An air traffic controller reportedly heard, "We have some planes," from the cockpit of one of the hijacked jets that slammed into the World Trade Center. The New York Times obtained transcripts of communications between pilots and controllers on the morning of the attacks.

• The FBI said the wife of an editor at the Sun newspaper, where another editor died of anthrax, rented apartments to two of the suspected hijackers.

The Home Front:

• President Bush urged support for the $100 billion economic stimulus package assembled by House Republicans but recognized he will have to compromise with Democrats on a final plan, a White House spokesman said.

• Stocks rose in a late rally fed by growing optimism about quarterly results from International Business Machines Corp. and Intel Corp., which was due after the close.

• New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced a job fair to help recover some of the estimated 100,000 jobs lost as a result of the Sept. 11 disaster. The Twin Towers Job Expo will be held at Madison Square Garden Wednesday.

• The FAA imposed a no-standing rule on flights bound for Reagan National Airport outside Washington. Passengers must remain seated for the final 30 minutes of Washington-bound flights.

• The U.S. Naval Academy was closed to the public until further notice because of security concerns, an academy spokesman said.

• Number of people missing at the World Trade Center stands at 4,688, with 450 people confirmed dead and 395 of those identified.

The Associated Press contributed to this report