Thursday, October 11


UN resumes food aid deliveries to Afghanistan

The United Nations has resumed food shipments to Afghanistan, one day after they were suspended.

The UN's children's fund, UNICEF, says 40 tonnes of humanitarian aid has arrived in the northern Afghan town of Andkhvoy from Turkmenistan.

A World Food Program convoy of 40 trucks with 1,000 tonnes of wheat is also making its way to Kabul from Pakistan.

Program spokesman Michael Huggins, says the program cancelled its decision to suspend the shipments when a convoy successfully made its way from Pakistan to Kabul.

"Sunday afternoon, before the bombardment started in Afghanistan, we had a convoy of 200 trucks that left and it reached Kabul Monday night and it was able to come back to Pakistan," he said.

"I think that gave confidence to many of the drivers and the truck owners here in Pakistan that the voyage could be made, that the road was secure."

Thursday 11 October, 2001

7:44pm AEST

© 2001 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Jets Renew Attacks on Afghan Cities
U.S. Personnel Said in Pakistan

.c The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan (Oct. 11) - In the biggest attack so far against Kabul, U.S. jets pounded the Afghan capital Wednesday night and early Thursday, and explosions thundered around a Taliban military academy, artillery units and suspected terrorist training camps.

Meanwhile, U.S. personnel arrived in Pakistan as part of the ongoing confrontation over Osama bin Laden, Pakistani government officials said Thursday. Government spokesman Anwar Mehmood said the personnel, whose numbers he did not provide, were not combat forces.

A Pakistani official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the United States would be allowed to use Pakistani air bases including Jacobabad, about 300 miles northeast of Karachi, to carry out recovery operations.

With the United States claiming air supremacy in its campaign to root out bin Laden's terrorist network, American jets roamed the skies over Kabul for more than two hours Wednesday, seeking out targets on the fringes of this war-ruined city of 1 million.

U.S. aircraft returned to the skies over this city early Thursday pounding sites near the airport. In two sorties, jets fired at least 11 heavy-detonation projectiles. They lit up the night sky. Flames surged skyward. Taliban gunners returned fire with anti-aircraft weapons. Thick clouds of black smoke rose from the direction of the airport.

New airstrikes hit the southern city of Kandahar on Thursday morning, the Taliban said in Kabul. At the border with Pakistan, refugees reported the strikes on that Taliban stronghold city were escalating. Ekhtiar Mohammed, a brickworker who arrived in the border town of Chaman on Thursday, said he had seen at least 10 people killed and 30 injured in Kandahar over the past four days.

The private Afghan Islamic Press in Pakistan said U.S. jets and missiles attacked a Taliban military base at Shamshaad, about four miles from the Pakistani border.

A U.S. official in Washington, meanwhile, said two adult male relatives of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar were killed in bombing strikes Sunday on the leader's home in Kandahar in the south of the country. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also said a senior Taliban officer was reported killed in strikes near Mazar-e-Sharif in the north.

Before the latest bombardment began after sunset, the United Nations reported that Taliban loyalists have been beating up Afghans working with U.N.-affiliated aid agencies, apparently taking aim at one of the only Western symbols remaining in the country.

The barrage on Kabul on Wednesday night appeared to be the longest and biggest yet in the 4-day-old U.S.-led air campaign. Warplanes fired missiles in rapid succession while Taliban gunners unleashed furious, but futile barrages of anti-aircraft fire at the jets flying beyond their range. Taliban mobile air defense units cruised through the city, firing at the planes.

Powerful explosions could be heard around Kabul airport in the north of the city and to the west in the direction of Rishkore and Kargah - both areas where bin Laden is believed to have terrorist training camps.

Blinding flashes lit up the night sky toward the Taliban military academy and an area with artillery garrisons. Jets could be heard heading northward toward the front line between the Taliban and the opposition northern alliance.

Most of the attack took place after the 9 p.m. curfew, and it was impossible to determine the extent of damage. There were no reports from Taliban radio, which has been off the air for two days following attacks on communications towers.

Although there appeared to be no impacts in central Kabul, buildings shook and windows rattled in residential areas in the heart of the capital.

For many Afghans, the nightly air raids were becoming difficult to bear, even in a war-hardened country.

Sardar Mohammed, a Kabul diesel-and-gasoline merchant, said he and his family eat dinner early, then before nightfall move everyone into a room with only one window, which is blocked up with bedding.

''To stop the shrapnel,'' he said. ''We learned this during the civil war.''

Omar, the Taliban leader, appealed to Muslims worldwide to back Afghanistan's fight against the United States, according to reports carried Wednesday on Web sites of the British Broadcasting Corp. and the Voice of America.

''Every Muslim, having a strong faith, should resolutely act against the egoistic power,'' Omar said in a statement published on the BBC Web site. The VOA carried a similar report on its site but did not use the quotation.

Hours earlier, White House officials urged U.S. media networks to be cautious in broadcasting prerecorded communications from bin Laden and associates in case they contained coded instructions for fresh strikes.

In other developments Wednesday:

- In Washington, President Bush unveiled a list of the United States' 22 most-wanted terrorists, including bin Laden and several associates.

- U.S. water system operators asked for $5 billion from Congress to protect drinking water and wastewater plants from terrorism.

The United States has claimed air supremacy in the campaign against the poorly equipped Taliban, the hard-line Islamic militia that rules most of Afghanistan. The Americans now plan to use 5,000-pound laser-guided bombs against the underground bunkers of Taliban leaders and bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.

U.S. officials said U.S. warplanes also would begin dropping cluster munitions - bombs that dispense smaller bomblets - for use against moving and stationary land targets such as armored vehicles and troop convoys.

Bush launched the bombing campaign after weeks of fruitless efforts to get the Taliban to hand over bin Laden, chief suspect in the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The United States has coupled the air assaults with a humanitarian effort, dropping packets of food aid into Afghanistan from planes. The Taliban announced Wednesday that angry Afghans were destroying the packets rather than eating the food.

Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, called the aid an attempt to ''dishonor'' the Afghan people by repaying their shed blood with offerings of food.

Zaeef also insisted that the Taliban militia was not defenseless.

''American planes are flying very high, and the defense system that we have, they are not in the range of what we have,'' said Zaeef. ''As we know, we do not have that sophisticated and modern defense system. But that they have destroyed our defense capability is not true.''

He said bin Laden was still alive, as was Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Warplanes have repeatedly targeted Mullah Omar's compound outside Kandahar, though he is said to have fled it Sunday. Wednesday morning, the compound and Kandahar's airport again came under fire again.

The United Nations said assaults against its Afghan staffers have taken place in recent days in cities that have been prime targets for U.S. warplanes since the airstrikes began Sunday - Kabul, Kandahar and the eastern city of Jalalabad.

U.N. spokeswoman Stephanie Bunker said in Islamabad that U.N. vehicles, including ambulances and mine-clearing vehicles, have also been seized - part of what seemed to be a stepped-up campaign of harassment. ''It seems to be intensifying,'' she said.

The United Nations withdrew its international staff from Afghanistan two days after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States because of security fears. Hundreds of Afghan employees remained behind, trying to continue delivering food and other humanitarian aid.

On Monday night, four security guards at a U.N.-affiliated mine-clearing operation were killed during an American air raid on Kabul. The building where they worked was only a few hundred yards from one of the night's targets, a transmission tower.

Along rugged stretches of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Pakistani troops have been fending off Taliban fighters apparently seeking to flee the bombing campaign.

Pakistani defense and intelligence officials said Wednesday that Pakistani soldiers fought a two-hour gunbattle a day earlier with about 30 Taliban soldiers who were trying to cross over - the second such incident in two days.

On Monday, Taliban pilots flew five helicopters across the border, where they were detained by Pakistani authorities, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, rebels in Afghanistan's north said the American-led air campaign was helping their cause. Waisaddin Salik, a spokesman for the northern opposition alliance contacted by telephone from Pakistan, said U.S. jets had bombed Taliban positions in the district of Shakardara on Tuesday night.

The district, 15 miles north of Kabul, is along the battle line where the alliance has been facing off against Taliban troops. It was the first reported bombing of such a front-line position by U.S. forces.

The Taliban, for their part, said they had repelled a rebel assault in northern Ghor province. Taliban spokesman Abdul Hanan Himat said 35 opposition fighters were killed.

The claims could not be independently verified.

AP-NY-10-11-01 0239EDT

Taliban envoy says 100 reported killed in village

ISLAMABAD, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Taliban Ambassador Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef said on Thursday as many as 100 people had been reported killed by U.S. bombing in a village in eastern Afghanistan near the city of Jalalabad.

However, he said the leader of the ruling Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, was alive, a day after a U.S. official told Reuters that two of his close relatives had been killed in the first day of strikes on Sunday.

"All Afghans are his relatives," Zaeef told a news conference.

He said the death toll had earlier been put at more than 70, but had risen with 15 people killed when U.S. jets hit a mosque near Jalalabad overnight.

But in addition, Zaeef told a news conference: "According to latest reports, American jets bombed a village in Torghar area, killing 100 people." Torghar is also near Jalalabad.

US air raids killed 18 in Kandahar, AIP reports
.c Kyodo News Service


The United States bombarded Afghanistan for the fifth straight day Thursday morning, killing 18 civilians and wounding another 30 in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported.

The Pakistan-based news agency said U.S. planes pounded the southern Afghan city, especially its eastern and northern parts, in the wake of its attack on a military complex in the same city Wednesday night.

Earlier Thursday, AIP reported U.S. bombardment killed 10 civilians and wounded another 10 in eastern Kabul on Wednesday night when a missile struck a row house.

The total number of Afghans killed since the U.S. and Britain started bomb and missile strikes against targets in Afghanistan on Sunday night stood at 72 as of Wednesday night, according to AIP.

The U.S. has been raiding Afghanistan almost continuously since Sunday.

It accuses the governing Taliban of providing sanctuary to Islamic militant Osama bin Laden, wanted by Washington for the Sept. 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

In addition to Kabul, the strikes have hit many other cities, including Kandahar, the second-largest city of Jalalabad in the east and Mazar-e Sharif in the north.

On the war front in Afghanistan, the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance has brought the Ghor provincial capital Qala Ahangaran under control Thursday, AIP separately reported.

The AIP report, quoting Northern Alliance spokesman Mohammed Habil, said commander Fazal Karim Aymuq declared the Northern Alliance troops had captured the city completely as a consequence of an offensive earlier in the day.

The Northern Alliance has been stepping up its military offensive against the ruling Taliban in parallel to the U.S.-led raids on Afghanistan.

Reports from Afghanistan said Afghan civilians in Wardak and Ghazni provinces close to Kabul have burned U.S. food airdrops in protest against the air strikes.

A source in Peshawar, western Pakistan, citing witness accounts from Afghanistan, said several hundred people in each of the two provinces gathered the packets of rice and fruit dropped by the U.S. military, piled them up outside their homes and torched them.

U.S. President George W. Bush initiated the food drop policy, saying Afghans -- long suffering from food shortages brought on by drought -- are America's friends and that the U.S. air strikes were targeted at the Taliban and the bin Laden terrorist network.

Civilians Mourn Dead in Kabul
By Kathy Gannon and Amir Shah
Associated Press Writers
Wednesday, October 10, 2001; 12:51 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan -- In the rubble of what had been an unassuming two-story building on Kabul's outskirts, Mohammed Afzl wept Tuesday for his brother - one of the first four confirmed civilian casualties of the U.S.-led air war against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

"My brother is buried under there," he said, watching bulldozers clear the remains of the offices of a U.N.-funded mine-clearing agency where the victims worked as guards.

The building in a quiet district of vegetable fields on the edge of the capital was less than 400 yards away from anti-aircraft batteries and a communication tower struck in U.S. raids Monday night. In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said it was not clear whether the building was hit by a U.S. missile or by anti-aircraft fire.
"What can we do?" Afzl said, still crying as he recounted how he had begged his brother to spend the night with family instead of guarding the empty building. "Our lives are ruined."

Nearing the end of the third day of airstrikes, a spokesman for Osama bin Laden broadcast a tough statement declaring that the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States were a "storm of planes" and that the men who hijacked them "did something good."

"America must know that the storm of airplanes will not stop, and there are thousands of young people who look forward to death like the Americans look forward to life," said Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a spokesman for bin Laden's al-Qaida organization.

"The Americans have opened a door that will never be closed," Abu Ghaith said of the continuing air raids on Afghanistan. "America must know that the battle will not leave its land until America leaves our land; until it stops supporting Israel; until it stops the blockade against Iraq."

Wednesday, warplanes dropped three bombs near the airport in the southern city of Kandahar, Taliban sources said, in the second straight morning of daylight raids on the Taliban stronghold. Kabul was reported quiet.

On Tuesday, American jets pounded also areas around Kandahar and the northwestern city of Herat. Planes screeched over the capital, sparking thunderous anti-aircraft fire and sending residents huddling back into whatever shelter they could find. Gunners opened fire again after midnight with a series of rapid salvos at high-flying jets.

"We just sit in the dark, watching the sky, waiting to die," said vegetable vendor Jamal Uddin, shutting down his shop as the lights went out Tuesday night. Power was cut in the city, and Taliban radio has been off the air since the second round of strikes wrecked transmitters.

There were no immediate strike in or near Kabul on Tuesday. The planes may have been headed toward Rishkore, nine miles to the west, a known training camp of bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.

U.S. jets bombed Taliban front-line positions in Shakardara on Tuesday night, said northern alliance opposition spokesman Waisaddin Salik, contacted by telephone from Pakistan on Wednesday morning. That district is about 15 miles north of Kabul. The strike in Shakardara was the first reported bombing of front-line positions by U.S. forces.

Officials from the Taliban, the Islamic militia that rules Afghanistan, claimed Tuesday that dozens of people have died in the U.S.-led raids. But the four workers, whose bodies were recovered Tuesday, were the first civilian deaths to be independently confirmed.

The men were employed by Afghan Technical Consultants, an agency contracted by the United Nations to conduct mine clearing - a never-ending task in one of the world's most heavily mined countries.
Their offices were not far from a transmission tower knocked out in Monday's strikes and near anti-aircraft batteries and an ammunition storage sites that may also have been U.S. targets.

Stephanie Bunker, a U.N. spokeswoman, confirmed the deaths. She said the men hadn't been told to leave the building. But, she said, "we specifically instructed staff that if they feel endangered, they should abandon their duty situations."

The United Nations evacuated international staff from Afghanistan at the outset of the crisis, but Afghan nationals working for U.N. organizations or groups under U.N. contract remained behind. The mine-clearing agency said last week it had suspended operations.

Bunker appealed for protection of civilians. "People need to distinguish between combatants and those innocent civilians who do not bear arms."

At the Pentagon, Rumsfeld expressed regret over the deaths, but said it was not verified that the U.S. fire was to blame. "We have no information that would let us know whether it was a result of ordnance fired from the air or the ordnance that we've seen fired from the ground on television," he said.

Rumsfeld said three days of airstrikes against facilities of the al-Qaida terror network and the Taliban's military had done enough damage to allow U.S. planes to fly day and night - a sign of U.S. confidence the flights were safe from air defenses.

Planes flew nearly constant sorties over Kandahar during the day Tuesday, Taliban sources said. A volley of strikes hit near the city in the morning. Raids resumed Tuesday night, pounding the home of the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. He reportedly left his house outside Kandahar minutes before missiles struck it Sunday.

"We can hear the explosions," said a Taliban soldier at the Kandahar garrison contacted by telephone Tuesday night. "There is darkness all around us. Our anti-aircraft guns are trying to target them but they are flying at a very high altitude." He refused to give his name.

Mullah Omar was in radio contact with senior Taliban commanders to assure them he was alive and in command, Taliban sources said. Afghan sources, contacted from Pakistan, said communications and air defenses at the Kandahar airport had taken a beating in the airstrikes.

In Herat, about 100 miles from the Iranian border, heavy strikes blasted military sites around the city as well as a position at the airport that previous strikes had failed to hit, a Taliban official in the city said.
Before Tuesday's sorties b

"He is alive, his health is very good and he is in Afghanistan," the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, told CNN.

"In this freestyle game, Washington is aiming firstly to hunt the sitting Islamic government in Afghanistan and then every committed Muslim in the name of terrorism," Zaeef said. But he insisted the Taliban were still "strong" and said there were no casualties among the ranks of the movement's fighters.

In Afghanistan's north, the rebel military alliance continued to confront Taliban troops. The fighting came close to the border with neighboring Tajikistan at several points, said Russian border guards.

A northern alliance spokesman, Abdullah, told CNN that the rebels were stepping up the pressure. "The Taliban are in a really hard situation at this moment in northern Afghanistan," said Abdullah, who uses one name.

Also Tuesday, the U.N. World Food Program said it would resume aid shipments to Afghanistan, a day after it suspended them because of the military strikes. The first shipment - a five-truck convoy carrying 100 tons of food - left Mashhad, Iran, for Herat on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, the Taliban arrested a French journalist who slipped into the country disguised in eastern Afghanistan along with two Pakistani companions, the Afghan Islamic Press reported. The Frenchman, who was arrested with two Pakistanis, was to be charged with espionage, the news agency said.

An editor for the French weekly news magazine Paris Match said a staff member, Michel Peyrard, telephoned him late Monday from Pakistan and said he planned to enter Afghanistan.

On Monday, the Taliban released a British journalist, Yvonne Ridley, who had been arrested while sneaking into the country last month. Still in custody are eight international relief workers, including two Americans, who were arrested in August for allegedly preaching Christianity.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Kathy Gannon contributed to this dispatch from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Airstrikes Trigger Civilian Flight
.c The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Heavy airstrikes hit the southern Afghan city of Kandahar early Thursday, the latest of a series of U.S.-led raids that have sent civilians fleeing for the Pakistani border.

Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia said 18 people were killed and more than two dozen hurt. Ten other people were killed in strikes early Thursday on the eastern city of Jalalabad, the Taliban said. The claims could not be independently verified.

In neighboring Pakistan, government officials confirmed for the first time that U.S. personnel have arrived on the ground, and that the Americans have been granted use of several Pakistani air bases. More than 15 U.S. military aircraft, including C-130 transport planes, arrived over the past two days at a base at Jacobabad, 300 miles northeast of the port city of Karachi.

Meanwhile, the rebels fighting to topple the Taliban claimed Thursday they had taken a key central province after heavy fighting with Taliban forces during the night.

Mohammed Abil, a spokesman for the northern alliance of opposition groups, said by telephone from Pakistan that Afghanistan's Gur province, including the capital, Chaghcharan, fell to opposition fighters shortly after midnight Thursday. Heavy fighting continued into the morning in several provincial areas, Abil said.

The claim could not be independently verified.

The northern alliance considers the province important because of its strategic location. It borders eight provinces - including four that the opposition considers crucial to efforts to unseat the Taliban militia, which controls most of Afghanistan.

The morning attacks on Kandahar, the Taliban's home base, came after a night of the heaviest bombardment yet of Kabul, the capital.

U.S. jets pounded Kabul late Wednesday and early Thursday, and explosions thundered around a Taliban military academy, artillery units and suspected terrorist training camps.

In two sorties, jets fired at least 11 heavy-detonation projectiles, lighting up the night sky. Taliban gunners returned fire with anti-aircraft weapons. Thick clouds of black smoke rose from the direction of the airport.

At the border crossing into Pakistan that is closest to Kandahar, refugees reported the strikes were escalating. Ekhtiar Mohammed, a brickworker who arrived in the border town of Chaman on Thursday, said he had seen at least 10 people killed and 30 injured in Kandahar over the past four days.

Another arriving refugee said some bombs in recent days had been hitting populated areas, even though the U.S. military pledged not to target civilians.

``It's not true that the Americans have only been bombing military targets. Many of the bombs are dropping on residential neighborhoods,'' said Naseebullah Khan, who works at a factory near Kandahar's airport, a repeated U.S. target.

The raids, now in their fifth day, were launched after the United States accused Saudi exile Osama bin Laden of planning the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. President Bush warned the Taliban they would face the consequences if they did not hand over bin Laden.

Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban supreme leader, appealed to Muslims worldwide to back Afghanistan's fight against the United States, according to reports carried Wednesday on the Web sites of the British Broadcasting Corp. and the Voice of America.

``Every Muslim, having a strong faith, should resolutely act against the egoistic power,'' Omar said in a statement published on the BBC Web site. The VOA carried a similar report on its site but did not use the quotation.

Word that U.S. personnel are on the ground in Pakistan came from Pakistani government spokesman Anwar Mehmood. He said they were not combat forces, and did not provide any details about their numbers.

Pakistan is providing logistical help and intelligence facilities to the United States in the fight against terrorism, Mehmood said, adding that the U.S. personnel would not use Pakistani territory for launching any attack on Afghanistan.

A Pakistani official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the United States would be allowed to use Pakistani air bases, including Jacobabad, 300 miles northeast of Karachi, to carry out recovery operations. Also being offered was a base at Pasani, a remote area west of Karachi.

Pentagon officials in Washington refused comment Thursday, but Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said earlier he was considering more airstrikes, use of special forces commando raids and coordinated missions with rebel forces already fighting the Taliban.

People living near Jacobabad said they had seen unusual movements in recent days, including more planes than usual landing. All roads leading to the base were under guard by paramilitary troops, they said.

Pakistan's support to the United States is an extremely delicate issue politically for Pakistan's president. In recent weeks, at least five people have died in anti-American, pro-Taliban protests in Pakistan.

Militant Islamic political leaders have called for holy war on the United States and condemned President Gen. Pervez Musharraf for his support of the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Gannon contributed to this dispatch from Islamabad, Pakistan.

AP-NY-10-11-01 0406EDT

US Personnel on Ground in Pakistan
.c The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - U.S. personnel are in Pakistan in connection with the confrontation over Osama bin Laden and have been granted the use of several air bases, Pakistani government officials said Thursday.

Government spokesman Anwar Mehmood said the personnel, whose numbers he did not provide, were not combat forces.

The spokesman said Pakistan was providing logistical help and intelligence facilities to the United States in ``the fight against terrorism.'' He said the U.S. personnel would not use Pakistani territory for launching any attack on Afghanistan.

A Pakistani official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the United States would be allowed to use Pakistani air bases including Jacobabad, about 300 miles northeast of Karachi, to carry out recovery operations. Also being offered for U.S. use was a base at Pasani, a remote area west of Karachi.

Extra measures have been taken to ensure security at the air bases.

People living in Jacobabad said they had seen some planes landing at the air base in the past few days and other unusual movements. All roads leading to the base were under guard by paramilitary troops, they said.

Pakistan's support to the United States is a delicate issue politically for Pakistan's president. In recent weeks, at least five people have died in anti-American, pro-Taliban protests in Pakistan.

Militant Islamic political leaders have called for holy war on the United States and condemned President Gen. Pervez Musharraf for his support of the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism.

AP-NY-10-11-01 0230EDT

Britain says no evidence linking Iraq to attacks
October 10, 2001

AL SHA'AFA, Oman (Reuters) - Britain said on Wednesday it had no evidence linking Iraq to last month's attacks on the United States, dampening speculation that Washington might target Baghdad in its war on terrorism.

A British government official travelling with Prime Minister Tony Blair said no other country would be attacked without "absolute evidence" that it sponsored terrorism, and without the widest international support for military action.

"We have no evidence that links the Iraqi regime with the events of September 11," the official told reporters. On Monday, Washington's ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte surprised some allies by saying the military campaign might yet widen from Afghanistan to "other states".

Hawks in the U.S. administration are reported to have advocated attacking Iraq in the campaign, which was prompted by last month's attacks on New York and Washington.

Murder of Canadian in Kuwait "premeditated"
By Ashraf Fouad

KUWAIT, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The murder of a Canadian man and wounding of his Filipina wife in Kuwait on Wednesday night appears to have been a pre-planned attack possibly linked to the U.S.-led strikes on Afghanistan, a Western defence source said.

"From the few details we have available this appears to be a premeditated, planned attack," the source told Reuters on Thursday.

The Canadian was employed as an aircraft technician at Kuwait's Ahmad al-Jaber airbase, where the United States has stationed a number of aircraft since the 1991 Gulf War.

The Canadian and his wife, who have not been named, were shot at in a market area of Fahaheel, on the outskirts of the capital Kuwait City, on Wednesday night. There are some 4,000 Canadians in Kuwait.

"It does not appear to be an operation by a lunatic, but they knew that the man was Canadian, working in the base...and went after him," the source said.

In Ottawa, the Canadian Foreign Ministry said the motive for the shooting was not known, but Kuwait's Arab Times quoted the dead man's wife as saying that a gunman had stepped out of a car while holding a machinegun and shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest).

Security sources told Reuters late on Wednesday that the attacker had not been caught.

Hospital officials quoted the woman, who was shot three times, as saying the attacker was a man from the Indian subcontinent.

The officials said she was in stable condition in the intensive care unit.

Kuwait has not officially said that it suspects a link between the attack and the U.S. strikes against Afghanistan, which were launched on Sunday. But security sources and diplomats said the investigation was considering that option.


News of the shooting spread fast in the small, oil-rich country, raising the level of concern among Westerners.

"I think people are starting to panic now. The mothers are asking if they should leave with the kids," a woman said after meeting on Thursday with several fellow Westerners at a school sports event.

Diplomats said several Western embassies in Kuwait were reviewing already strict security measures.

"No doubt we have raised the security level, but we have to look at it again now," a Western diplomat said.

The Gulf Arab state has strongly condemned the attacks on the United States and said it supports the U.S war on terrorism.

The United States, which has some 8,000 civilians in Kuwait, has maintained a military presence in the country since leading a coalition of allied forces in the 1991 Gulf War to end a seven-month Iraqi occupation.

Canada has expressed strong support for U.S. strikes on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban for harbouring Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the attacks on New York and Washington.

The U.S.-led bombing of Muslim Afghanistan has angered many in the Islamic world.

05:45 10-11-01

Ex-Afghan King Pushes for Meeting
.c The Associated Press

ROME (AP) - With U.S. airstrikes pounding Taliban targets, Afghanistan's former king is pushing ahead with plans for a gathering of tribal leaders to select a new head of state and now wants to hold the meeting in a demilitarized Kabul, a senior aide said Wednesday.

No date has been set for the meeting, or loya jirga, but former King Mohammad Zaher Shah is working to convene the assembly in the Afghan capital if a cease-fire is secured, Yusuf Nuristani said.

``No ethnic group can claim they own Kabul,'' he said, making the capital the ideal seat for the grand national assembly of tribal leaders to construct a transitional government if the Taliban regime should collapse.

He stressed that the Taliban were welcome to take part.

Zaher Shah, who turns 87 this weekend, and the main anti-Taliban northern alliance announced an agreement last week to convene Afghanistan's first loya jirga since 1964. Initially, it appeared the meeting would be in alliance-controlled parts of the country instead of Taliban-controlled Kabul.

Then, on Sunday, the United States began striking Taliban targets in Kabul and elsewhere as it began hunting down Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Another aide to the king, Abdul Sattar Sirat, stressed Wednesday that the agreement with the northern alliance was only to convene a loya jirga and was not an exclusive deal.

``They are a part of the Afghan nation and any solution for the Afghan issue will be open to them and to other Afghans,'' he said.

Powerful Pashtun tribes who had viewed the monarch as a unifying figure have questioned his agreement with the U.S.-backed alliance, which mostly represents Afghanistan's minority groups.

While many tribal chiefs dislike the Taliban, they regard the northern alliance as little more than agents of foreign powers. And many alliance leaders have been discredited because of the anarchy that swept Afghanistan when they were in power.

AP-NY-10-10-01 2335EDT

Probe Narrows To 220 Detained After Attacks
By Jim McGee and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 10, 2001; Page A01

The FBI has narrowed the focus of its terrorism investigation to 220 people taken into custody since Sept. 11 after concluding that nearly 400 others have no connection to the deadly assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, senior U.S. officials said yesterday.

Hundreds of agents have been assigned to exhaustively detail the backgrounds and activities of those who remain under scrutiny. The FBI is working to determine if some merit criminal prosecution and is seeking information from others, officials said.

Some of those in detention already have been linked to the Sept. 11 hijackers or to the al Qaeda terrorist network, which is accused of bankrolling and orchestrating the attacks that left more than 5,000 people dead.

Although the remaining 400 appear to have no connection with terrorism, many are still being held on immigration violations or various criminal charges, ranging from fugitive warrants to traffic offenses, officials said.

As of Monday, a multi-agency team of criminal investigators led by the FBI had arrested or detained 614 individuals since Sept. 11, including 165 on immigration violations and an undisclosed number as material witnesses in the terrorism investigation. Justice Department officials have repeatedly declined to say how many are still in custody.

The FBI and the Justice Department have released little information about the detentions and have not publicly characterized how many may be related to the Sept. 11 attacks. Under a federal court order in New York, not even the names of detainees have been disclosed.

More than 200 people are still being sought for questioning by the FBI. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III have said in recent weeks that some accomplices in the Sept. 11 attacks may still be on the loose in the United States.

U.S. government officials declined to characterize what has led the FBI to focus on the 220 individuals they have in custody. FBI and Justice Department officials have said in the past that those sought for questioning in the terrorism probe have been linked to the case in some tangible way, such as telephone calls to associates of the hijackers or financial ties to individuals under suspicion.

A senior official cautioned that no more than a "handful" of the 220 people now under scrutiny are likely to be charged. The official said most of the potential criminal defendants are likely to be living in Europe or the Middle East.

"We are not saying we think there were 220 terrorists out there," the official said.

The probe has also resulted in detentions for some people later cleared by authorities. In one celebrated case, a radiologist from San Antonio was detained as a material witness shortly after the hijackings, but was freed after officials determined he may have been the victim of identity or credit card theft.

Senior government officials said they are continuing to strengthen their case against a number of key individuals suspected of being accomplices to the 19 terrorists who hijacked four jetliners on Sept. 11 and crashed them into the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and the Pennsylvania countryside.

Justice prosecutors are also getting closer to seeking indictments against some suspects, though one official said charges "are not imminent." Among those considered for indictment are alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden -- who was previously indicted for orchestrating the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa -- and several of his top lieutenants who allegedly helped plan or set in motion the Sept. 11 attacks, sources said.

U.S. and British intelligence officials have identified one key planner as bin Laden aide Mohammed Atef, who was also indicted in connection with the embassy bombings. Investigators also say they have established links to others, including Abu Zubaydah, who is believed to have coordinated the failed millennium bombing plot, and Mustafa Muhammad Ahmed, the suspected paymaster of the Sept. 11 operation.

Today, President Bush is expected to release a list of bin Laden associates who are wanted by the FBI for acts of terrorism prior to the Sep. 11 attacks, sources said.

At least four men now in the custody of U.S. and British officials are viewed as potential accomplices by U.S. investigators, sources said. Two men, Mohammed Jaweed Azmath and Ayub Ali Khan, were detained on an Amtrak train Sept. 12 in Fort Worth with hair dye, $5,000 in cash and box-cutter knives like the ones used in some of the hijackings. Both were also flight-trained, like several of the hijackers.

Another man, Zacarias Moussaoui, was detained in August in Minnesota after he sought to learn how to fly, but not take off or land, commercial jetliners. A fourth, Algerian pilot Lotfi Raissi, is accused of training four of the hijackers in Arizona. A British prosecutor has said he may have been a knowing participant in the plot.

However, authorities have offered no public evidence of their involvement in the plot or released any information about the status of their cases or the names of their attorneys.

Soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush ordered the FBI to make prevention of additional terrorist attacks its top priority. FBI officials have said that has been the case ever since. FBI Assistant Director Dale Watson heads a large multi-agency intelligence and operations group aimed at thwarting future attacks.

"We are trying to make sure America is hardened to prevent the next attack," FBI Deputy Director Thomas Pickard said in a recent interview.

But the criminal investigation into the conspiracy remains a major emphasis and is the primary vehicle for understanding not only what occurred, but what may happen in the future, officials said. Some suspects who may be connected to the Sept. 11 plot may also be linked to plans for other attacks, FBI officials say.

Justice Department spokeswoman Mindy Tucker yesterday called the strategy a "two-pronged approach to terrorism" that includes an investigative track and a preventive track.

"These two tracks are both important and often overlap," she said. "The only priority distinction that can be made is a natural one that you would expect -- when an agent finds a lead that is prevention-related -- that lead is followed up on immediately."

The investigative track -- which has as its goal criminal indictments of conspirators -- includes a team of 250 agents from the Justice and Treasury departments and more than 35 federal prosecutors in Washington. They occupy roughly a quarter of the 40,000-square foot Strategic Information Operation Center at the FBI's Washington headquarters.

FBI Deputy Assistant Director Thomas B. Locke said agents are conducting microscopic investigations of the 220 people who are the focus of the probe, perusing financial data and reconstructing their exact movements.

"We are making tremendous progress," Locke said. "I am following the evidence."

The criminal investigators are also working with federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, where a grand jury is hearing evidence and issuing subpoenas.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company


WASHINGTON, DC, USA, 10 October 2001 (InfoTimes): Pakistan Army's General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, was set on fire by one or more persons early Wednesday. Fire burned buildings, furniture and papers for more than five hours. Flames have turned the powerful GHQ into ashes. "The entire structure of the GHQ has been gutted. Furniture has been reduced to ashes. Dozens of offices have been burned completely," firefighter Abdul Qayum told AP. The fire broke out shortly after 4 a.m. on 10 October at the Pakistan Army's General Headquarters, said Major-General Rashid Quereshi, chief spokesman of Pakistani military dictator General Pervez Musharraf. He said the fire was brought under control shortly after 9:30 a.m. Hundreds of army officers work at the GHQ. No casualties or injuries were reported and the extent of the total damage is still not clear, Islamabad fire chief Mohammed Yaqoob told AP. Quereshi said an investigation into the cause of the fire at the GHQ has been launched. He said it started in a stationery store within the GHQ complex and spread through the wooden structure into other buildings.

GHQ was burned to ashes after General Musharraf's police recently murdered several Pakistani citizens, who were protesting against U.S. and British warplane bombings and cruise missile strikes in Afghanistan; after he allowed the American, British and other foreign armed forces to use Pakistan's airspace, ports, land bases and airports to launch more military attacks against Afghanistan; and after the Pakistan Army Chief arbitrarily dismissed Interservices Intelligence (ISI) Chief General Mahmood Ahmed and Deputy Chief of Army Staff General Muzaffar Hussain Usmani to consolidate his illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic powers to rule Pakistan at gunpoint. During his two years of corrupt and tyrannical dictatorship, General Musharraf transformed Pakistan into a repressive police-army state. Recently, Musharraf's police opened gunfire, killed, injured, arrested, tortured and victimized numerous Pakistani citizens who were protesting against the ruling tyrant's anti-Pakistan policies, decisions, operations and actions. Some victims of the ruling junta had reportedly threatened to burn General Musharraf and other generals in hell-fire.

On October 10, 2000, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Pakistan's military rulers of committing widespread human rights abuses in the name of political "reforms" and called on General Pervez Musharraf to immediately return the country to constitutional rule, but the money, publicity and power hungry generals flatly refused to do so. In the twenty-page report, "Reform or Repression? Post-Coup Abuses in Pakistan," Human Rights Watch said the Musharraf tyranny had detained opponents and former government officials without charge, removed indepedent judges from the higher courts, banned public rallies/demonstrations and rendered political parties all but powerless.

"Musharraf follows a long line of generals in Pakistan who have claimed that a period of military rule is the path to true democracy," said Sidney Jones, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch. "In fact, he is systematically destroying civil liberties in Pakistan."

On March 25, 2000, when former Democratic President Bill Clinton went to Pakistan, Mike Jendrzejcyzk, Washington Director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division, said: "President Clinton cannot ignore this abusive law that is being used to bring Dr. [Farooq] Sattar to trial. The military government has used the National Accountability Ordinance to detain scores of political figures, who often have no idea of the charges being brought against them. President Clinton should strongly object to this." The National Accountability Ordinance, adopted in November 1999, after the October 1999 military coup that brought General Pervez Musharraf to power, and later amended, gives the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sweeping powers of arrest, investigation and prosecution. This barbaric and draconian law made by the military junta has converted the NAB-RAB officials into police officers, investigators, prosecutors, judges and assassins. Pakistani and international Press, including the Information Times, recently reported that several criminal NAB-RAB Punjab officials tortured and murdered a Pakistani citizen, Mian Muhammad Arshad Butt, 55, on Sunday, 30 September 2001 when he was in the custody of NAB-RAB.

Republican Secretary of State General (R) Colin L. Powell leaves later this week for New Delhi, India and Islamabad, Pakistan, to improve U.S.-India-Pakistan relations, to reduce Indo-Pak tensions over Occupied Kashmir and to seek more support for the U.S.-led war against Afghanistan. Let's see what advice the Human Rights Watch will give to Secretary Powell about the Musharraf autocracy.

[Syed Adeeb is a veteran American journalist based in the Washington area]

OPEC Takes Wait-and-See Attitude as Prices Slide
Andrés Cañizález

International oil prices hit their lowest point in two years Wednesday. But in the midst of the conflict-ridden international situation, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has not yet decided to cut production .

CARACAS, Oct 10 (IPS) - International oil prices hit their lowest point in two years Wednesday. But in the midst of the conflict-ridden international situation, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has not yet decided to cut production .

OPEC officials are considering whether to call an extraordinary ministerial conference or even a summit to discuss a future cutback in supplies aimed at shoring up prices.

The price of the OPEC reference basket stood at 19.61 dollars a barrel Tuesday, the lowest level seen in two years.

The cartel confirmed Wednesday that the price had stayed below its target band of 22-28 dollars a barrel for 12 days in a row. According to the target band mechanism, adopted at OPEC's second summit, held in Caracas in September 2000, a 500,000-barrel production cut is supposed to automatically kick in when prices remain below the 22-dollar mark for more than 10 days.

But OPEC reiterated that before reaching a decision, it planned to wait for the international panorama to clear up, and for an assessment of the consequences of the US and British air strikes on Afghanistan launched since Sunday in reprisal for the Sep 11 terrorist assaults on New York and Washington.

OPEC Secretary-General Alí Rodríguez said the possibility of a production cutback had not been ruled out. According to reports, the 11-nation oil cartel might be considering a 700,000 to one million barrel-a-day reduction in supplies.

So far this year, the organisation's members have withdrawn 3.5 million barrels a day from the market in an attempt to stabilise prices within the target range.

Humberto Calderón Berti, a former Venezuelan energy minister and former OPEC president, said the organisation should modify its strategy, because production cuts aimed at bolstering prices have allowed non-OPEC producers to gain a stronger foothold in the market.

The fact that prices have not risen despite the troubled international panorama coinciding with the start of the northern hemisphere fall and winter, when oil consumption peaks, lends credence to Calderón Berti's forecast that prices will continue to slip.

''OPEC should not cut production again. Instead, it should stimulate demand for energy through moderate prices,'' said the expert.

Since Sep 1, OPEC has been placing 23.2 million barrels a day on the market. That total does not include Iraq's sales, which are under United Nations control since Baghdad invaded Kuwait in 1990, triggering the 1991 Gulf War.

The aerial attacks on Afghanistan have spawned ''a new scenario, and we cannot take actions without determining what the final outlook will be,'' Rodríguez told the Venezuelan press from OPEC headquarters in Vienna.

The organisation might call a special ministerial meeting before the gathering scheduled for Nov 14, said Rodríguez. At their last meeting, in late September, OPEC ministers decided not to modify production, and merely said they would closely monitor the behaviour of the market.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who is in regular telephone contact with his OPEC counterparts, said a new summit might even be organised. The group has only held two since it was created 40 years ago.

Chávez plans to visit OPEC headquarters next week to meet with the heads of the organisation, on a tour that will also take him to Algeria, which currently holds the group's rotating presidency.

Rodríguez said the market was bound by the uncertainty triggered by the bombing campaign against Afghanistan and the slowdown of the global economy caused by the US recession, which has deepened since the Sep 11 terrorist attacks.

''We still do not know what repercussions those two elements will have. The response so far has been very calm,'' said Rodríguez, who added that there were no discrepancies within the organisation regarding the current international situation.

OPEC, which provides 37 percent of global oil supplies, is made up of Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Prices have been gradually dropping since Sep 11, and the sharp swings predicted by analysts have not occurred.

Indonesian police to charge radical Muslim leader

JAKARTA, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Indonesian police said on Thursday they would charge a radical Muslim chief with incitement and detain any of his followers caught trying to drive Americans and Britons out of the country.

Jakarta police spokesman Anton Bahrul Alam said officers would summon Muhammad Rizieq, head of the small but vocal Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), on Friday.

"The police will charge the FPI leader for inciting the public but we have to summon and question him first," Alam told Reuters without saying why police were not acting sooner.

Rizieq earlier told Reuters that the FPI would start hunting down Americans and Britons to try to force them out of Indonesia after the government ignored a deadline to cut ties with Washington over U.S.-led air attacks on Islamic Afghanistan.

Alam said the police, already on the streets in force, would increase security at places in Jakarta deemed to be sensitive to threats from the FPI. The charge of incitement is a criminal offence in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country.

05:07 10-11-01

Blair: Campaign Doesn't Target Islam
.c The Associated Press

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - The U.S.-led anti-terror campaign is not directed against Islam or Arabs, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday, adding that battling terrorism should unite all nations and faiths, not divide them as terrorists have planned.

Blair spoke during a tour of the Middle East to build support for U.S.-British attacks on Afghanistan. Many Muslims see the U.S. war on terror as a pretext for attacking their countries and faith. Most governments in the region gave only careful public endorsements of the military campaign.

``We are determined that this will never be seen as a struggle of Western countries against Islam,'' Blair told reporters after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He was in Oman on Wednesday.

He said those who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States were not only after the loss of civilian lives, but meant to ``divide people: Arabs and West; divide people: Muslims and other faiths; divide people across the whole of the world.''

The international community should send terrorists a clear message: ``We will stand united in our fight to see the international terrorism defeated.''

Mubarak, who supports the U.S. campaign, also called for a united stance ``against those who are trying to link terrorism to Islam or (the) Arab nation.''

His government is believed to be working closely with the United States gathering information on militants who threaten both countries.

``All countries of the world- large or small; developed or developing - should be committed to various ways and means to the international campaign toward the elimination of all forms of international terrorism,'' he said.

Meanwhile, a Saudi foreign ministry official said his government has asked Blair not to include the kingdom on his tour out of concern it could inflame tensions at home.

The Saudi government has allied itself with Washington, but did bar the United States from using a key Saudi air base to launch anti-terror attacks on other countries in the region.

But British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw denied reports that Blair had not been successful in arranging a visit to Saudi Arabia, Britain's Press Association reported Thursday.

Straw told BBC Radio 4's Today program that ``the government of Saudi Arabia has made it clear that it would welcome a visit with the prime minister, but as ever with these things, it is a matter of sorting out a convenient time for both sides,'' PA reported.

AP-NY-10-11-01 1119EDT


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