CHARIKAR, Afghanistan -- The United States launched its retaliation against terrorism Sunday, striking at the heart of Osama bin Laden's adopted nation and his Taliban supporters with a thundering attack of bombs from the air and missiles from the sea.

Bin Laden's whereabouts were unknown. He survived the attack, however, as did Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban, according to a Taliban representative in Pakistan. He said there were civilian casualties. There were no reported American losses.

The U.S. attacks, aided by British warships, lit the sky like fireworks beginning at 9:20 p.m. local time in Kabul, the Afghan capital. In the southern city of Kandahar, the barrage reportedly destroyed the control tower and radar facilities at the airport and hit the Taliban national headquarters downtown. Smoke was said to be billowing from Omar's home.

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Bombs also struck in the vicinity of Jalalabad, near the Pakistani border, where Bin Laden operates a training camp.

Terrified refugees fled all three cities, including old men piggy-backing children and pushing wheelbarrows filled with belongings and women in full-length burkas clutching babies and balancing bundles on their heads.

The flash and thunder could be seen and heard in this opposition-held town about 35 miles north of Kabul, where excited anti-Taliban fighters and their families flowed into the streets.

There were reports of chaos in Kabul as the city was plunged into darkness. Taliban antiaircraft flak and huge explosions were clearly visible.

The retaliation came nearly a month after terrorists flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, leaving about 5,600 people dead or missing. The United States had repeatedly demanded that the Taliban hand over Bin Laden and his associates, the prime suspects in the terrorist attacks.

"Now the Taliban will pay a price," President Bush told a worldwide television audience from Washington shortly after the first American missiles struck. "Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader. . . . We will not waver, we will not tire. We will not falter, and we will not fail."

In a chilling counterpoint, Bin Laden released a videotape in which he exulted over the Sept. 11 hijackings, declaring that the United States is "full of terror and fear, from north to south, east to west."

He vowed that "America will not live in peace before peace reigns in Palestine and before all the army of infidels depart the land of Mohammed, peace be upon him."

The videotape, broadcast by a television network in the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar, showed Bin Laden, standing in fatigues with an automatic weapon beside him. The tape was made in daylight, showing that Bin Laden delivered his statement to a camera sometime before U.S. and British forces launched their nighttime attack.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the attack was intended to weaken the Taliban, destroy Bin Laden's base of operations and "acquire intelligence to facilitate further operations." Pentagon officials said bombing might continue for several days.

The retaliatory strike was mounted by 15 land-based aircraft, including long-range B-2 stealth bombers flying from Whiteman Air Force Base near Kansas City, Mo., and 25 other planes launched from aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea. It started at 9:20 a.m. PDT, and included attacks by B-1 Lancers and B-52 bombers.

In addition, American and British ships and submarines launched 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles. Prime Minister Tony Blair said British aircraft would join the attack "in the coming days." Referring to the Taliban, he said: "They were given the choice of siding with justice or siding with terror. They chose terror."

The American aircraft used 500-pound gravity bombs as well as computer-guided bombs to pound Bin Laden's network of Al Qaeda training camps in the forbidding Afghan countryside.

They also struck at the Taliban's air defenses and its small fleet of warplanes.

At the same time, U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo planes began dropping food, medical and other supplies inside Afghanistan to aid displaced Afghan civilians.