US Marines swooped into the Taliban's backyard, setting up a southern Afghan bridgehead yesterday to take the war on Osama bin Laden and his protectors to a crucial new phase. \nUnopposed, hundreds of the crack troops ferried in by helicopter overnight took an airstrip near Kandahar, within striking distance of the Taliban's spiritual home and final redoubt. \n"We are going to support the Afghan people's effort to free themselves of the terrorists and the people who support terrorists," said General James Mattis on the USS Peleliu, the Marines' assault ship in the Arabian Sea. \nUp to 1,000 Marines, with armour and supplies, were to be flown in rapidly as Washington showed its resolve to catch bin Laden. It blames the Saudi-born militant for the Sept. 11 suicide airliner attacks in the US that killed about 4,000 people. \nWashington, and the Northern Alliance it supports, suspect bin Laden is still in the shrinking Kandahar area, the only region the Taliban still controls after the loss of Kunduz in the north. \nBut mystery shrouded the exact whereabouts of the man with a US$25 million bounty on his head -- and of his host, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. \nHeavily armed US AC-130 gunships and attack jets also pummelled targets in Kandahar overnight and in the morning, but witnesses said the Taliban remained in control. "There is no apparent sign they are retreating, but the Taliban is in very sparse numbers," one witness said. \nUS forces were also moving into Kandahar's main airport closer to the city, tribal forces said.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations