Thursday, October 18, 2001, Chandigarh, India



W O R L D



Officials say no direct link has been found between Anthrax cases across America with "organised terrorism".
(28k, 56k)

Over 2,300 anthrax calls in USA
Chain of cases triggers global scare
Washington, October 17

A rash of US anthrax cases today triggered fears of biological warfare, hoaxes and false alarms round the world, but not a single case of human contamination was confirmed outside the USA. In the USA, the FBI said it has been swamped with 2,300 reports involving anthrax or other dangerous agents since October 1, although the overwhelming majority turned out to be “false alarms or practical jokes’’.

UN talks on future role in Afghanistan
United Nations, October 17
Amid reports of continued US military strikes on Afghanistan, the Security Council has initiated discussions on a possible UN role in shaping the political future of that country.




Suitcases containing a 500 kg cocaine haul are displayed at Southend Airport in Southern England on Wednesday. 
British Customs officers seized the cocaine, which was dumped out of a cargo plane at the airport on Tuesday night, and arrested six persons for their biggest haul of the drug ever.
— Reuters




THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

 


Displaced children of the Kano riots were among residents who fled their homes to seek refuge in Bompai police barracks on Tuesday, after four days of rioting in the northern city of Kano. More than 200 people have died in four days of bloody Christian-Muslim clashes in Kano. 
— Reuters

Bush authorised to lift curbs on Pak
Washington, October 17

Decks have been cleared for the US military and economic aid to Pakistan after Congress authorised President George W. Bush to lift sanctions against Islamabad. The House of Representatives, in a voice vote yesterday, passed a Bill already cleared by the Senate earlier this month giving Mr Bush power to lift the sanctions.

What forced Pervez to reshuffle army top brass?
Islamabad, October 17

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf reshuffled the top army high command earlier this month and sidelined two hardline senior Generals including the ISI chief Mehmud Ahemed after being tipped, by a western intelligence agency, about a plot by extremist religious parties to destabilise his government, media reports said here today.

EARLIER STORIES

 
As US-led forces pounded Afghan targets, experts in Washington looked to long-term solutions and President George W. Bush encouraged children to participate in humanitarian efforts. (28k, 56k)

Northern Alliance to coordinate attacks with the USA, says the alliance Foreign Minister, Dr Abdullah Abdullah.
(28k, 56k)



Authors, from left, Rachel Seiffert, Peter Carey, Andrew Miller, and Ali Smith pose at a photo session in London on Tuesday for the announcement of the shortlist for the Booker Prize for Fiction 2001. — AP/PTI

Be patient, Omar urges followers
Islamabad, October 17

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar today urged his followers to be patient and predicted that the USA would be defeated, the Afghan Islamic Press reported. The reclusive leader made the comments in his first public statement since Saturday which was relayed over the Taliban’s internal wireless network today morning.

Laden son denies interview
Riyadh, October 17

One of Osama bin Laden’s sons denied today having given an interview to a British tabloid which quoted him as saying his father, the world’s most wanted man, would never be captured by the West.

Shot Israeli hawk wanted Arabs expelled
Jerusalem, October 17
Assassinated Israeli Cabinet Minister Rehavam Zeevi was a hard-as-nails ex-general nicknamed “Gandhi” who wanted to expel Arabs from the land claimed by the Jews. 
Israeli Cabinet Minister Rehavam Zeevi is seen in an undated file photo.  
— Reuters photo

Putin shuffles Cabinet
Vladimir Putin Moscow, October 17

In a bid to fine-tune his government, Russian President Vladimir Putin today dismissed two ministers, assigned the portfolio of industry, science and technology to Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov and created a new post for coordinating federal agencies and nationalities policy.

Norway PM to resign
Oslo, October 17

Norway’s Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg today said he would resign, paving the way for a tax-cutting, centre-right coalition government to take office later this week.
Top








 

Over 2,300 anthrax calls in USA
Chain of cases triggers global scare

Washington, October 17
A rash of US anthrax cases today triggered fears of biological warfare, hoaxes and false alarms round the world, but not a single case of human contamination was confirmed outside the USA.

In the USA, the FBI said it has been swamped with 2,300 reports involving anthrax or other dangerous agents since October 1, although the overwhelming majority turned out to be “false alarms or practical jokes’’.

A US army facility in Maryland confirmed that a letter sent to the highest-ranking US Senator, South Dakota Democrat Tom Daschle, contained anthrax spores.

President George W. Bush and other top officials say the incidents in which people in Florida, New York, Washington and Nevada are confirmed to have been exposed to anthrax may be a coordinated act of terrorism, possibly linked to Osama bin Laden.

This fanned fears of biological warfare, and prompted scares around the world. In some cases, unknown substances were rushed to police laboratories for testing. Others were ultimately dismissed as hoaxes or false alarms.

Searches of media offices in New York failed to find new traces of the bacteria after two people linked to New York news offices — the seven-month-old son of an ABC news employee and an NBC news employee — contracted a skin form of anthrax.

No new US cases of anthrax were confirmed on Tuesday. One person has died and at least two others have contracted anthrax — a sometimes-fatal bacterial disease that can be caught by breathing in its spores or having them come in contact with the skin.

The US Justice Department said federal prosecutors in Connecticut had brought charges against two men over hoaxes.

“Hoaxes, pranks and threats involving chemical or biological agents are serious crimes and warrant a serious response,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said during a Washington news conference with Attorney-General John Ashcroft.

With fears about anthrax gripping Americans and the world, US Law enforcement officials pieced together clues relating to the few confirmed cases of anthrax being sent through the mail as powdery bacterial spores.

Mueller said there were similarities in the handwriting in anthrax-containing letters sent to NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw in New York and to Daschle in Washington.

The justice department released a copy of the front of each envelope. Both were postmarked from Trenton, New Jersey, and both handwritten in similarly printed letters and numerals.

In South Africa, a Cape Town police station was cordoned off after receiving a suspicious parcel containing an unknown substance, public radio reported.

In London, staff evacuated a BBC building late on Tuesday after finding a white powder they feared might contain anthrax.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said an unknown substance was found at the British State Broadcaster’s Millbank Building in Central London on Tuesday. Among others, 13 London Stock Exchange staff were taken to hospital for tests because of a suspect package and 400 staff were evacuated from a postal sorting office in Liverpool because of a powder police said proved to be harmless sand.

In Thailand, chemicals used for artificial rain triggered a scare. Villagers in Chonburi province, 80 km east of Bangkok, called on police and health officials after small chemical pellets began raining on to their houses on October 10.“Villagers believed the ammonium nitrate pellets found on their house roofs were anthrax and put them in envelopes and handed them to the police,” Sophon Yutithum, a senior health official told newsmen.

Elsewhere, the police kept busy today investigating possible cases of anthrax contamination, including at US missions abroad.

A new anthrax alert was triggered in Osaka, Japan, where the US Consulate-General received a suspicious-looking letter with white powder in it, officials said.

One letter was delivered to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s residence, but was later found to contain food starch, and several major media organisations in Tokyo also received suspicious letters.

The US Consulate in the Canadian city of Halifax was briefly evacuated yesterday after an unidentified white powder was found in the building.

The anthrax scare also hit the US consulate in Rio de Janeiro, where two persons were given antibiotics after they handled an envelope containing powder.

The authorities in New Zealand sealed off two post offices today as emergency workers in special protective gear investigated suspect content of mail.

In Bogota, the Colombian police was awaiting test results on three letters suspected of containing anthrax and those who handled them. A package containing white powder also triggered a panic at a post office at the Mexico city international airport.

Bolivia activated its emergency response system after two suspicious envelopes were sent to a local business and the bureau of the Spanish news agency EFE. Reuters, AFP
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UN talks on future role in Afghanistan
Haider Rizvi

United Nations, October 17
Amid reports of continued US military strikes on Afghanistan, the Security Council has initiated discussions on a possible UN role in shaping the political future of that country.

Council members spent several hours at a closed door meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, his special envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, and other officials, trying to figure out what responsibility the UN should assume if the Taliban militia’s regime disintegrates.

The possibility of Afghanistan’s opposition Northern Alliance capturing Kabul earlier than expected apparently has both the US and the UN worried.

This is because Pakistan, now a crucial ally in the US-led military coalition against the Taliban, does not recognise the alliance and insists “moderate elements” of the Taliban should be included in Afghanistan’s future leadership.

The USA and some Afghan groups want former king Zahir Shah, now exiled in Italy, to lead a transitional government in Kabul but Burhanuddin Rabbani, former president and head of the Northern Alliance, has opposed it.

UN officials said the council members had wide-ranging discussions with Mr Brahimi on the humanitarian, political and military situation in Afghanistan but were tight-lipped on the specific results of the negotiations.

“We are at a very preliminary stage,” Richard Ryan, president of the council and ambassador of Ireland, told reporters.

Mr Ryan said the council members would have another round of discussions with Mr Brahimi, who has been assigned to oversee political, humanitarian and rehabilitation aspects of the Afghan situation.

Meanwhile, gravely concerned about the humanitarian situation, council members have urged member-states to speed up their contributions to the UN emergency fund for Afghanistan, he said.

“Council members also demanded that the Taliban should stop threatening the safety and security of aid workers and cease obstructing aid destined for the Afghan people. The Taliban has been asked to contribute to the alleviation of hardship of a large part of the Afghan population comprising women and children”, he added. IANS

MOSCOW: Russia opposes any role for the hardline Islamic Taliban movement in a future Afghan government, the Itar-Tass news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov as saying on Wednesday. “We are against the participation of the Taliban in a future Afghanistan government,” Mr Losyukov said in Shanghai on the sidelines of a meeting of Asia-Pacific rim states.

“The Taliban has so discredited itself that its participation in a future political arrangement is unlikely to be acceptable,” he said.

The Deputy Foreign Minister was quoted as saying that China shared Russia’s view but wanted the interests of Pakistan — hitherto one of the ruling Taliban’s main backers — to be respected.

Earlier at the Shanghai meeting, Foreign Ministers of Russia and China agreed a broad-based coalition government should be set up in Afghanistan, as long as it has wide international support, Russian diplomats said. Reuters
Top

 

Bush authorised to lift curbs on Pak

Washington, October 17
Decks have been cleared for the US military and economic aid to Pakistan after Congress authorised President George W. Bush to lift sanctions against Islamabad.

The House of Representatives, in a voice vote yesterday, passed a Bill already cleared by the Senate earlier this month giving Mr Bush power to lift the sanctions.

The Bill authorises the US President to exercise waivers of foreign assistance restrictions with respect to Pakistan through September 30, 2003.

It also talks of economic aid to Pakistan and India if according to the President, it is in the national interest of the USA.

Mr Bush last month lifted sanctions imposed on India and Pakistan following their 1998 nuclear tests but the embargoes put on Islamabad in the wake of the 1999 military coup could be cleared only by Congress.

Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone, former co-chairman of the India Caucus, opposed the Bill saying the military aid might be used against India and there was no indication of any intention on the part of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to usher in democracy.

Mr Pallone said the sanctions that Congress was now repealing were imposed when President Musharraf overthrew the civilian elected Government of Pakistan in a military coup and since then Pakistan had been governed under military rule.

He said in the current situation it might be appropriate to provide economic assistance to Pakistan because of President Musharraf’s willingness to support the USA in its war against terrorism, but it is unclear what purpose military aid would serve when Pakistan was not contributing militarily to the war.

Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey pointed out that Mr Bush had already sanctioned $ 100 million of economic aid to Pakistan and she understood he would be giving Pakistan another $ 500 million out of sums already voted by Congress for the war against terrorism. PTI
Top

 

What forced Pervez to reshuffle army top brass?

Islamabad, October 17
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf reshuffled the top army high command earlier this month and sidelined two hardline senior Generals including the ISI chief Mehmud Ahemed after being tipped, by a western intelligence agency, about a plot by extremist religious parties to destabilise his government, media reports said here today.

“Last few weeks were not the smoothest phase in General Musharraf's tenure as the Chief of Army Staff, particularly three weeks ago when an important western intelligence service received information about an extremist religious group’s preparations to destabilise his government with a pledge to introduce Islamic revolution in the country,” Pakistan daily ‘The News’ said.

Prior to the October 7 reshuffle, the army faced a crisis of stability as four senior Lieutenant Generals vied for the post of the Vice Chief of Army Staff> It became an important post in the present crisis, as the country has no established post of Vice President to succeed General Musharraf in the event of an emergency, it said quoting sources.

“Before October 7, there was no Vice President or Vice Chief of Army Staff in Pakistan and the country was ready to plunge itself as an active partner in an international war against terrorism against its next door neighbour,” it said.

However, while taking over as President in June this year, General Musharraf nominated the Supreme Court Chief Justice Irshad Hassan Khan to function in his absence.

The situation became difficult as two of the four aspiring Generals tried to pre-empt Musharraf’s decision about his successor by suggesting that Pakistan should only extend restricted assistance to the global coalition against Afghanistan based terrorists, it said.

The newspaper, however, has not named the two Generals.

The ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Mehmud Ahemad and Deputy Chief of Army, Lt. Gen. Muzafar Hussain Usmani, who had the reputation of being the hardline Generals, resigned after they were superseded on October 7, the day the USA began air strikes against Afghanistan.

The divisions within the army were the reason why General Musharraf played it safe by announcing the reshuffle of the commanders just around the same time the US airstrikes began in Afghanistan. PTI
Top

 

Be patient, Omar urges followers

Islamabad, October 17
Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar today urged his followers to be patient and predicted that the USA would be defeated, the Afghan Islamic Press reported.

The reclusive leader made the comments in his first public statement since Saturday which was relayed over the Taliban’s internal wireless network today morning.

“Everyone has to die one day. We are not afraid of dying and we should die as Muslims,” he reportedly said in his message to followers of the radical Islamic militia.

“I urge you to be steadfast in all tribulations. We have fought against the Russians and this is another Jehad against infidels. It is a test. People are in pain but god will grant them success. Our enemies are infidels who are not acceptable to any Muslim.”

ISLAMABAD: Mullah Omar has asked the tribesmen of the Afridi tribes in Khyber and Bajur agencies to join the Taliban when the USA stops bombing and starts grounds attacks.

Thousands of these tribesmen have enrolled themselves to fight in Afghanistan against the USA in support of the Taliban. Omar, however, stopped them from immediately crossing over to Afghanistan, asking them to wait.

Pakistan’ s religious and political party Jamain Ulmai Islam is also keen to fight alongwith the Taliban. It has been raising donations while its women supporters have donated several pounds of gold to support them. UNI
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Laden son denies interview

Riyadh, October 17
One of Osama bin Laden’s sons denied today having given an interview to a British tabloid which quoted him as saying his father, the world’s most wanted man, would never be captured by the West.

The Saudi daily Al-Madina quoted Abdullah bin Laden as saying that the purported interview published by London’s Sunday Mirror on October 14 was totally made up and raised a question mark about the credibility of the Western media.

Abdullah, speaking in Jeddah, told Al-Madina that the Sunday Mirror’s story was so full of “lies” that it was easy to detect them. AFP
Top

 

Shot Israeli hawk wanted Arabs expelled

Laila Khaled, former Palestinian hijacker and member of the Politburo of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Laila Khaled, former Palestinian hijacker and member of the Politburo of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), speaks to reporters in Amman on Wednesday, in front of a poster of the late leader of the PFLP, Abu Ali Mustafa. The PFLP claimed responsibility for the killing of Israeli Cabinet Minister Rehavem Zeevi on Wednesday. — Reuters photo

Jerusalem, October 17
Assassinated Israeli Cabinet Minister Rehavam Zeevi was a hard-as-nails ex-general nicknamed “Gandhi” who wanted to expel Arabs from the land claimed by the Jews.

Just two days before he was shot today by suspected Palestinian gunmen at a Jerusalem hotel, Zeevi, 75, resigned as Tourism Minister in protest against the Israeli Government’s decision to ease restrictions on Palestinians.

The dog tags Zeevi wore around his neck and outside his shirt were a constant reminder of his military past. They listed the names of Israeli soldiers who are missing in action.

Zeevi, a leader of the seven-seat National Union-Yisrael Beitainu bloc, was a parliament member for 13 years.

Before joining the Knesset, he had an illustrious military career. He served in the pre-state Jewish fighting force, the Palmach, and as an officer in the Israeli army from 1948 to 1974, retiring with the rank of Major-General. As chief of the army’s central command, he kept a lion as a mascot in a cage at headquarters outside Jerusalem.

As an advocate of the expulsion of Arabs living under Israeli rule, he referred in July to Palestinians working and living illegally in Israel as “lice” and a “cancer” that must be stopped from spreading.

Zeevi said in a 1991 interview with Reuters that Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, captured in the 1967 war, should be “encouraged” to leave.

“Let them go. Let them go to live with pride, with money. We will buy every piece of land, every building and every tree. We will pay them. We will let them go with everything they own. It is not an expulsion... it is transfer by agreement.” ReutersTop

 

Putin shuffles Cabinet

Moscow, October 17
In a bid to fine-tune his government, Russian President Vladimir Putin today dismissed two ministers, assigned the portfolio of industry, science and technology to Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov and created a new post for coordinating federal agencies and nationalities policy.

Mr Klebanov, just back from his visit to India, would retain the rank of Deputy Premier in the Cabinet and continue to co-chair Indo-Russian inter-governmental Commission on trade, economic, scientific, technological cooperation and ministerial level commission on military-technical cooperation, official sources said.

Mr Putin dismissed the Minister of Industry Alexander Dondukov and the Minister of Federal, National and Migration Policies Alexander Blokhin. PTI
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Norway PM to resign

Oslo, October 17
Norway’s Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg today said he would resign, paving the way for a tax-cutting, centre-right coalition government to take office later this week.

Mr Stoltenberg, who saw his Labour party suffer its worst general election result in 90 years on September 10, told parliament he would formally present the resignation to King Harald at an extraordinary session of the Council of State.

He was expected to stay on until Friday to leave time for a coalition of the Conservative Party, the Christian People’s Party (CPP) and the Liberals to organise a new government. Reuters
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