Saturday, October 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

USA tightens noose around Laden
Troops fly to Uzbekistan; Aid for Afghan refugees
Jack Redden and Brian Williams

Islamabad/Washington, October 5
The USA and its allies today prepared the world for a military strike against Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers and the world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and British Prime Minister Tony Blair shuttled from nation to nation ensuring no let-up in pressure on the Taliban and Bin Laden, whom they accuse of masterminding September’s hijack attacks in the USA.

But at the same time, President George W. Bush ordered 320 million dollars in urgent humanitarian aid for Afghan civilians — part of an apparent hearts and minds operation to convince Muslims round the world the war on terrorism was not directed at them.

A US Defence official said in Tashkent that 1,000 troops from the US 10th Mountain Division were on their way to Uzbekistan, a Central Asian country bordering Afghanistan.

“Troops from the 10th Mountain Division are on their way (to Uzbekistan),” the official, accompanying US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on a trip to Uzbekistan, told Reuters.

Troops from the division have been on alert pending movement to Central Asia to join a buildup of US Forces near Afghanistan.

One question on many lips was when Bush would send the biggest deployment of US Forces since the 1991 Gulf War into action. Others focused on any likely backlash.

The streets of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, were quiet today as residents prepared prayers, far from the frenetic diplomatic and military manoeuvres.

American and British forces on sea, land and air, finalised logistic arrangements in the Gulf, Central Asia and the Indian Ocean. Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees were trudging toward borders with Iran and Pakistan, UN officials said.

Qatar’s al-Jazeera TV showed footage of Saudi-born Bin Laden marking the unification of his Al-Qaida group with another Islamic militant organisation headed by Egyptian Islamic militant Ayman Zawahri. Reuters


Joint operations launched

New Delhi, October 5
American and Russian forces have launched joint operations to track down terrorist warlord Osama bin Laden and his followers and crossed into the Afghan territory to reach Pamir mountain ranges, a Pakistani media report said today.

British forces were also planning to launch anti-Taliban operations from southern Afghanistan, “The News International” said quoting unnamed sources.

It claimed that “assault to get Osama in Pamir has begun”, but there was no official confirmation either from Washington, Moscow or London.

“To reach Osama’s suspected hideouts, advance parties of US commandos had already begun crawling from a launching site in Tajikistan since last Thursday. Russians had pointed at the suspected hide-outs and provided route maps to some sites which were used for storing the nuclear-tipped missiles by the former USSR during the culminating years of the cold war at the heights of Pamir,” the daily said. PTI Back


Pak bans airspace above 30,000 ft

Lahore, October 5
Pakistan has banned its airspace above 30,000 feet and ordered all the flights using the country’s airspace to fly at the same or below this altitude.

However, the in-charge of Civil Aviation Authority (Peshawar), Squadron Leader Azad, though expressing his ignorance about any such order, said in case of any such development, only specified routes could be cleared, not the airspace of the whole country.

Highly placed sources confided to The News that following the anticipated US attacks on Afghanistan, Pakistan has ordered the clearance of its airspace for all sorts of local and international flights. Back

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