Monday, October 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

M A I N   N E W S

Attacks ‘shock’ ex-King’s aide

Rome, October 7
A top aide to former Afghan monarch Mohammed Zahir Shah said today he was shocked and saddened by the US attacks in Afghanistan as he watched them unfold on television.

“It’s sad. It’s of course tragic,” the aide, Hedayat Amin Arsala told AFP. “Now my hope is that it stops quickly and that people are not hurt,” he said.

“I really didn’t think it was inevitable,” Amin Arsala said of the attack, which he said he was watching on television in his Rome hotel. “We had hoped that it could be prevented... I really can’t talk,” he added. AFP



Germany backs US action

Berlin, October 7
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in a statement today that the German Government gave its “unreserved backing” to the US Action against what he called “terrorist targets’’ in Afghanistan.

US President George W. Bush had earlier confirmed that US and British forces had begun military action in Afghanistan. Mr Bush said other countries, including Germany, would contribute at a later date.

The statement said Mr Bush had informed Mr Schroeder over the telephone about the strikes shortly before they happened. Mr Schroeder again underlined “Germany’s unlimited solidarity” with the USA, it said. Reuters


A terrorist attack: Taliban

Islamabad, October 7
The Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, today said the US strikes on his country were a “terrorist’’ attack, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) said.

“This attack by America is a terrorist act,’’ AIP quoted Zaeef as saying.

“We tried hard to find a solution to the problem, but America chose the path of its power and arrogance,’’ he said.

“We cannot hand over Osama to America.

“Poor and common Afghans will die, for which America will be responsible. This is an attack on an independent country. We will fight to the last breath.’’ Reuters


Pak Muslim leaders flay attacks

Islamabad, October 7
Some of Pakistan’s Muslim leaders swiftly denounced US attacks on Afghanistan tonight, calling them brutal and unwarranted. An Islamic organisation summoned Muslims to “extend full support to their Afghan brothers.”

Amar Mehdi, spokesman for the militant Muslim group Harkat ul-Mujahideen, condemned the military strikes on Kabul, as “a brutal attack on innocent people.”

“Americans have used their might to kill innocent people in Afghanistan instead of targeting training camps about which they were talking and making a hue and cry,” Mehdi said. There was no immediate indication of any casualties when he spoke.

In Lahore, a group of Muslim clerics was in special session to discuss the Afghanistan crisis when word of the action reached them.

The group, Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith Pakistan, issued an immediate condemnation and said Americans now face a “highly critical situation” in the Muslim world.

Some of the hundreds of clerics in attendance were “shocked and in tears” upon learning of the strikes, the group said.

“We appeal to all Muslims living anywhere in the world to extend full support to their Afghan brothers in this critical time,” said Sazid Mir, the organisation’s president and a prominent scholar and religious leader.

He beseeched the USA to immediately stop the attacks on Afghanistan and stop targeting innocent Afghans.”

“We have no idea to what extent they have caused damage in Afghanistan,” Mir said, “but we are grieved, shocked and worried.”

Some religious leaders from Afghanistan were also present at the meeting, Mir said. AP


Protesters gather outside Blair’s office

London, October 7
More than 100 persons gathered outside the Central London Downing Street office of Prime Minister Tony Blair today to protest at Britain’s involvement in the military strikes against Afghanistan’s Taliban.

They chanted anti-war slogans through a megaphone in front of police, criticising the allies for launching an attack and chanted, “Stop the war, feed the poor.’’ One demonstrator, Jamie Ritchie, 55, a lawyer, said, “I am opposed to a war, because it is going to cause more problems than it will solve. We have had these wars in the past and they create more terrorism than they prevent.’’

The police moved the demonstrators away from the gate but did not disperse them.

While a majority of Britons — two-thirds in a recent poll — favour military action, provided civilians are not harmed, that proportion drops dramatically if civilians are hurt in so-called collateral damage.

Parliament will be recalled for an emergency session — the third such recall since September 11. Mr Blair will make a statement and a debate will follow. The Opposition Conservative Party is behind military action, although some Left-wing members of Blair’s Labour Party are more sceptical.

“The allied attack is, I believe, a justified action against an organisation which has put itself beyond the rule of law. The Taliban and Bin Laden are the aggressors. The coalition is simply seeking justice for the evil attack carried out by them,’’ Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said on hearing the strikes had begun. DPA

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