(CNN) -- The United States and Britain launched attacks on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban on Sunday in retaliation for the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, President Bush said.
"On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime," Bush said in a televised address at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday.
Bush said the action was taken after the Taliban refused to meet American demands to turn over suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and other members of his al Qaeda organization.
"More than two weeks ago, I gave Taliban leaders a series of clear and specific demands: Close terrorist training camps, hand over leaders of the Al Qaeda network and return all foreign nationals, including American citizens unjustly detained in our country," Bush said. "None of these demands were met. And now, the Taliban will pay a price."
"We are joined in this operation by our staunch friend, Great Britain. Other close friends, including Canada, Australia, Germany and France, have pledged forces as the operation unfolds," Bush said.
A senior Taliban official in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, told CNN their command and radar systems at the Kandahar airport had been destroyed, but he said the group does not rely entirely on that equipment. Witnesses in Kandahar told CNN that at least three explosions rocked the city, and power was out.
The U.S. action follows several weeks of demands that the Taliban hand over bin Laden, whom U.S. officials hold responsible for the attacks. The Taliban have refused those demands.
Bin Laden has been living in Afghanistan as a guest of the Taliban, the fundamentalist Islamic militia that rules most of Afghanistan, since they seized power in 1996.
More than 5,000 people are presumed dead after hijackers plunged fuel-laden commercial jetliners into the Pentagon and each of the World Trade Center's twin towers on September 11. A fourth jet crashed into a Pennsylvania field after passengers tried to overpower the hijackers.
The United States began moving warships, aircraft and troops to southwest Asia in the weeks after the attacks. At the same time, U.S. diplomats worked to assemble a broad coalition of nations to support an international campaign against terrorism, including its NATO allies, Russia, Japan and moderate Arab states such as Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The Bush administration began sharing the results of its investigation into the September 11 attack with key allies, including the NATO countries and Pakistan, on October 2.
The United States designated bin Laden's al Qaeda organization a terrorist group in 1999. The organization has maintained training camps in Afghanistan for several years, and those camps were the target of a 1998 U.S. strike after bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed more than 200 people.
Bin Laden faces criminal charges in the United States in connection with those bombings, and testimony in the trials of four men convicted of those attacks linked them to al Qaeda.