U.S. forces continue attacks on Afghanistan

U.S. warplanes continued to rain bombs on Taliban troops, weaponry and compounds in the fifth day of airstrikes against Afghanistan, Pentagon officials said today.

Air Force Master Sgt. Evander Earl Andrews became the first U.S. death in Operation Enduring Freedom. Andrews, who was assigned to the 366th Civil Engineer Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, was killed in a heavy equipment accident in the northern Arabian peninsula. He was originally from Maine, officials at the base said, but no other details were immediately available.

Now that U.S. attacks have destroyed most of the Afghan air defenses, "we can conduct open-ended, day or night" strikes, a senior Pentagon official said.

Heavy explosions rocked the Kabul airport today in the first daylight raids on the capital. Earlier in the day, civilians fled the southern Afghan city of Kandahar as raids there targeted a compound where followers of Osama bin Laden had lived. U.S. warplanes also will begin dropping cluster munitions--anti-personnel bombs that dispense smaller bomblets-- on mobile targets such as armored vehicles and troop convoys.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government said today that at least nine of the 19 airplane hijackers were in the United States legally at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Immigration and Naturalization Service said four others entered the country legally, including three who had overstayed their visas. The INS said it could not determine the status of the fourth on Sept. 11.

Regarding six of the hijackers, the INS said it was unable to find any record relating to their names. The INS said it compiled the information based on material from the FBI.

INS Commissioner James Ziglar told a House subcommittee that 10 of the hijackers were in the country legally on Sept. 11. Documents by the INS, however, showed only nine with legal status on the day of the attacks.

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