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Taliban Says It Fired on Aircraft Over Kabul

Aired October 6, 2001 - 07:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to continue our coverage on the videotape we're getting out of Kabul in Afghanistan. Again, a high- flying aircraft. It may be a drone. Again, one of these special aircraft designed to essentially spy on the movement on the ground below.

We know about two weeks ago, it was reported anyway that a similar looking aircraft was shot down. Let's go overseas to Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. More now with Tom Mintier.

Tom, what else can you add?

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, we do have some late information arriving from Kabul. An independent source, an eyewitness who actually saw this incident, in addition to what you see on the tape, it's interesting to note that the Taliban apparently fired a SAN, which is a surface-to-air missile.

And they do know that they have some of these, but it was fired in the direction of the aircraft, but missed. And apparently on the video that you're showing, you can see the trail briefly of this surface-to-air missile as it was fired at this high-flying aircraft.

Now we were told by the Taliban's Foreign Minister that three different anti-aircraft batteries fired at this, but the Taliban Foreign Ministry did not tell us about this SAN attempt to shoot down this plane. This was from someone who was out on the street that we talked to. And CNN has confirmed what they say they saw was a missile being fired from the ground at this high-flying aircraft, that apparently missed.

So in addition to the three anti-aircraft batteries that the Taliban says fired on this aircraft, there was an apparent launch of a surface-to-air missile from the ground in Kabul at this high-flying aircraft, but it apparently missed -- Bill.

HEMMER: OK. Tom, what do we know about the capabilities of these surface-to-air missiles? We hear about the Stinger. What else do they have?

MINTIER: Well, they do have a few SCUDs, but nobody is quite sure how operational they are. The surface-to-air missiles basically the Soviets had them. And they were able to capture a lot of their military equipment that the Taliban has. I had one security analyst tell me that they had 17 tons of weapons, basically small arms and medium weight arms, that were dumped in Kandahar and that they basically had 17 tons of light weapons to hand out.

So there is a lot of hardware in there from so many years of conflict, but what condition these SANs are in, what type of capabilities the operators have, they're a lot of variables. And it may help to explain why this, if indeed the SAN was launched from the ground at this high-flying aircraft, it indeed did miss, which is a bit unusual. But I mean, the SANs are pretty effective.

But it depends, again, on the operator. So what we do know is that one was seen being launched from the ground in Kabul at this aircraft, but apparently missed.

HEMMER: Tom, we want to turn you quickly here to a political and diplomatic front. Tony Blair was there yesterday. He has since left Islamabad, went on to New Delhi to meet with the Indian prime minister.

Has there been much reaction in Islamabad after Tony Blair's visit?

MINTIER: Well, I think everyone here knew that Mr. Blair was on his way to New Delhi. It had been speculated locally for a couple days that after his visit here, he would move on to meet with India. And there was concern about changing the focus away from the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, and the potential military strike against Afghanistan to the problems that have existed for decades between Pakistan and India.

And analysts that I talked to said they were happy to see that it was mentioned by the Indian prime minister, but barely mentioned by Tony Blair. So there was concern. And the analysts that I've talked to today said that Mr. Blair apparently put the message out quietly that the focus must remain on Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. And the side issue of Kashmir wasn't really being dealt with.

Now he did refer to the terrorist act in Trinigar, in Indian- controlled Kashmir. I mean, there's no doubt that someone drove a car loaded with explosives into this building. But as far as trading blame, India and Pakistan have been doing that for the last few days and expect possible Mr. Blair's visit to both sides was the message that we're involved in something much larger than this, that the focus must remain on the Taliban and Osama bin Laden for right now as they're attempting to build a coalition.

So Mr. Blair's visit here extremely important, just as it was when he traveled to Delhi.

HEMMER: Perhaps the most critical face-to-face meeting yet. Tom Mintier, live in Islamabad. Thanks, Tom. We'll be back in touch shortly.

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