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The world at war
By Aaron Wherry
As America's anthrax panic begins to calm, United States President George W. Bush warned of new and far deadlier threats.
Speaking from the White House after meeting with French President Jacques Chirac, Bush said suspected terrorist ring-leader Osama bin Laden may be developing weapons of mass destruction.
"This is an evil man we're dealing with and I wouldn't put it past him to develop evil weapons to try to harm civilization as we know it," Bush said. "[Bin Laden] announced that this was his intention and I believe we need to take him seriously."
Bush said he did not know for certain whether or not bin Laden or his al-Qaida organization possessed such weapons, but promised "to keep relentless military pressure" on bin Laden to ensure any such threats are minimized.
"We will do everything we can to make sure he does not acquire the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction. If he does have them, we'll make sure he doesn't deploy them," Bush said.
"That's why we work hard to keep our coalition bound together and that's why we're going to keep relentless military pressure on him in Afghanistan," he said.
Alluding to his forthcoming speech at this weekend's UN General Assembly, Bush said he would tell delegates that "no nation can be neutral in this conflict because no civilized nation can be secure in a world threatened by terrorism."
In Afghanistan, the U.S. military has begun using large bombs known as "daisy cutters" in an intensified attack focused on the Taliban front lines.
The 6,800 kilogram bombs are billed as the world's most powerful non-nuclear explosive.
"As you would expect, they make a heck of a bang when they go off and the intent is to kill people," said Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace.
Most bombs used by U.S. range from 225 to 900 kilograms. American military strikes have also involved 2,200 kilogram "bunker buster" bombs against underground targets.
Meanwhile, Bush maintained the military campaign on the Taliban and terrorism had just begun.
"We are at the beginnings of our efforts in Afghanistan and Afghanistan is the beginning of our efforts in the world," he said.
In the United States, several post offices and government centres have now reopened after anthrax scares, but a mailbag sent from Washington to the U.S. consulate in Russia tested positive for the bacteria the fourth country, other than the United States, to report a positive anthrax discovery. Other anthrax spores have been found in a government office in India, a U.S. embassy in Lithuania and a major newspaper in Pakistan.
Investigators are probing hundreds of leads pertaining to the anthrax attacks, but have no firm suspects at this time.
Seventeen cases of anthrax infection have been reported ten cases of inhalation anthrax and seven cases of the less serious skin anthrax resulting in four deaths.
Anthrax has been reported in 40 locations across the United States, covering eight states Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Washington.
with files from Associated Press and Canadian Press