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Alleged Terrorist Airliner Attack Targets Pentagon

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2001 – The Pentagon was a target today of an alleged terrorist attack, which followed other alleged attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

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Smoke and flames rose over the Pentagon at about 10 a.m. today following a suspected terrorist crash of a commercial airliner into the side of the building. Part of the building hit collapsed; firefighters continue to battle the flames. The building was evacuated, as were other federal buildings in the Capitol, including the White House. The number of casualties is unknown. The Pentagon's workday population is about 24,000. Photos by Gerry J. Gilmore.
  

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Workers inside the Defense Department headquarters in Arlington, Va., estimated that a blast occurred around 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, which shook the building and produced a billowing gray-black smoke plume that could be seen for miles.

Army Maj. Jeff Mockensturm said he was in a meeting in Room 3D450 at that time when an explosion erupted with a blinding orange light. Authorities confirmed that a commercial airliner, possibly hijacked, had crashed into the building.

"It felt like it was right outside the window," Mockensturm said, who works for Army's program analysis and evaluation office. "The window cracked, the ceiling shook, the floor shook. I felt like it was an earthquake, like the whole building was going to collapse." The major joined thousands of other Pentagon employees who had been evacuated after the blast.

The aircraft crash at the Pentagon followed two others minutes earlier at the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Both 110-story buildings later collapsed. Authorities said they believed all three planes involved had been hijacked by terrorists.

Back at the Pentagon, gray-black smoke billowed as an Air Force F- 16 fighter circled overhead, on patrol for another airliner reportedly flying in the area. No airliner was intercepted.

Part of the building hit collapsed; firefighters continue to battle the flames. The building was evacuated, as were other federal buildings in the Capitol, including the White House.

The number of casualties is unknown. The Pentagon's workday population is about 24,000. Updates will follow as they come available.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSmoke and flames rose over the Pentagon at about 10 a.m. today following a suspected terrorist crash of a commercial airliner into the side of the building. Part of the building hit collapsed; firefighters continue to battle the flames. The building was evacuated, as were other federal buildings in the Capitol, including the White House. The number of casualties is unknown. The Pentagon's workday population is about 24,000. Updates will follow as they come available. Photos by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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