Today's Developments, 10/24

Military Action:

• Taliban gunners fired missiles at U.S. jets pounding the front line north of Kabul, the heaviest onslaught in four days of attacks there. Opposition commanders said they were bringing up fresh troops for a possible assault on the capital.

• A Pakistani militant group said that 22 of its fighters were killed in a U.S. attack on Kabul — the deadliest known strike against a group linked to Usama bin Laden since the air campaign began.

• The United Nations said that U.S.-led forces had dropped unexploded munitions or mines near the western Afghan city of Herat and it urgently needed information about them to protect civilians.


• The United States has information the Taliban may intend to poison food sent through overseas humanitarian aid to Afghan civilians and then blame it on America, a Pentagon official said.

• Pakistani police fired teargas to disperse more than 3,000 stone-throwing supporters of Islamic militant groups protesting the government's refusal to allow the return of bodies of leaders killed in an air raid in Afghanistan.

• Afghan exiles seeking an elusive "southern alliance" to topple the Taliban urged the United States to stop its bombing and invited disillusioned Taliban to break ranks and support the return of ex-King Zahir Shah.

The Anthrax Scare:

• The Bush administration struggled to make the nation's vast postal system and its employees safe from anthrax. Surgeon General David Satcher bluntly admitted "we were wrong" not to respond more aggressively to tainted mail in the nation's capital.

• Three new cases of suspected anthrax inhalation were being treated in the Maryland suburbs of Washington. All were linked to the letter addressed to Senator Tom Daschle.

• About half of 30 swabs taken at the Brentwood postal facility in Northeast D.C. tested positive for anthrax, a government official said.

• Postmaster General John Potter said on NBC’s Today show that he couldn't guarantee the mail is safe and that the Postal Service eventually planned to start irradiating mail, which experts said would kill anthrax spores.

• President Bush authorized the immediate spending of $175 million to improve safety at postal facilities.

• The Senate planned to re-open one of its office buildings today, but there was no word on when the House planned to re-open any of its offices.

• Seven thousand New York City postal workers were offered the antibiotic Cipro to ward off anthrax.

• A postal equipment repair center in Topeka, Kan., was closed after it was learned the center had received equipment from East Coast mail facilities contaminated with anthrax.

The Investigation:

• The world's most wanted man, Saudi-born militant Usama bin Laden, is alive and not wounded after 18 days of U.S. attacks on Afghanistan, the Afghan Islamic Press quoted a Taliban Information Ministry official as saying.

• No link has been established between the Sept. 11 hijackings and anthrax attacks that were meant to terrorize the nation, FBI Director Robert Mueller said.

• The State Department warned U.S. citizens abroad to be mindful of the risk of anthrax and other biological or chemical agents.

• The United Arab Emirates Central Bank governor said several people suspected of involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks moved money through the Gulf country a total of seven times last year and this year.

The Home Front:

• The U.S. House of Representatives passed and sent to the Senate for final congressional approval a broad bipartisan bill to expand the power of law enforcement to combat terrorists.

• President Bush told an audience in Maryland that the terrorists who struck Sept. 11 hoped the U.S. economy would "crater," and he's urging quick passage of a new package of tax cuts.

• The Russell Senate Office Building, one of the six major congressional office buildings that were closed for an anthrax check, reopened Wednesday.

• Secretary of State Colin Powell said he hoped the anti-terrorism war in Afghanistan would conclude quickly but the administration is prepared to keep up the fight during the Muslim holy period if necessary.

• Americans, by a 2-to-1 margin, said the best way to avoid terrorism would be for the U.S. to help solve international problems, a new poll reported.

• Vice President Cheney said Americans should assume there would be more terrorist attacks.

• New York is using DNA to identify remains recovered from Ground Zero. Eight victims have been identified this way so far.

• The city's estimated number of people missing at the World Trade Center is 4,339, with 425 of the dead identified.


• A rally in tech stocks lifted the overall market as investors looked past another round of lukewarm earnings reports and decided to focus on hopes for an economic recovery next year.

• Federal officials reached agreement on a lower price for the antibiotic Cipro, the most popular anti-anthrax drug. Bayer Corp., which makes the drug, agreed to sell the government 100 million pills at 95 cents each.

• House Republicans say a $100 billion economic stimulus package focused on business and investment tax cuts is the right tonic for the ailing economy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.