Tuesday, November 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

US air power used to quell jail revolt
Hundreds of Taliban prisoners feared killed
Mazar-e-Sharif, November 26
US jets rained bombs through the night on a mud-walled fort in northern Afghanistan after hundreds of foreign Taliban prisoners staged a revolt in which an American and many captives were feared killed.
Unidentified northern alliance fighters leave the prison compound in a scene from German television footage of an uprising in a Northern Alliance prison in Mazar-e-Sharif, on Sunday. Unidentified northern alliance fighters leave the prison compound in a scene from German television footage of an uprising in a Northern Alliance prison in Mazar-e-Sharif, on Sunday. Hundreds of Osama bin Laden's foreign legion were killed after staging an uprising with smuggled arms in the prison officials said. — AP photo

Taliban lack military expertise
K
AMAL Matinuddin, a former General in the Pakistan army, in his book, “The Taliban Phenomenon” has noted that the Taliban were the biggest clandestine operation undertaken by his country.

Anthrax letter potent enough to kill 1 lakh
Washington, November 26
An anthrax-spiked letter mailed to US Senator Patrick Leahy was so lethal that it could have killed 100,000 persons had it been opened, the Vermont legislator said on US television.


EARLIER STORIES

 


Palestinians carry the body of 13-year-old Kfaeh Abid who was shot by Israeli soldiers yesterday, during his funeral in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Monday. Israeli soldiers shot Abid during confrontations on Sunday that followed a Hamas demonstration. Palestinian medical officials said he died in hospital of his wounds. — Reuters photo

Protests over human embryo cloning
Cloning only for ‘lifesaving therapies’

Boston, November 26
Swift protests have been voiced by political and religious leaders against reported cloning of the first human embryo, though aimed at aiding stem cells research to treat a wide range of diseases, as they view it as a step towards cloning human beings.

Atrocities heaped on B’desh Hindu women
Dhaka, November 26
Be it minor girls of eight years or women of 70, none have escaped sexual violence as atrocities against the minorities continue in the Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Hindu leaders allege.

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US air power used to quell jail revolt
Hundreds of Taliban prisoners feared killed
Nikolai Pavlov

Mazar-e-Sharif, November 26
US jets rained bombs through the night on a mud-walled fort in northern Afghanistan after hundreds of foreign Taliban prisoners staged a revolt in which an American and many captives were feared killed.

The roar of the jets, the echo of explosions and the rattle of gunfire resounded through the night from the massive 19th century Qala-e-Janghi fort outside the city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

“There has been bombing and shooting all night long,” said one witness who spent the night a few kilometres away.

Some 500 prisoners linked to Osama bin Laden grabbed Kalashnikov rifles, machine guns and grenades from their Northern Alliance guards yesterday and battled them in the fort of ethnic Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, a Reuters witness said.

The firefight raged for at least four hours, when a Reuters television crew and a flak-jacketed US observer inside the fort leapt over a high wall and escaped in a hail of bullets.

The US observer was heard telling other Americans in the area over his satellite phone that at least one American might have been killed in the shooting, the Reuters correspondent said.

He quoted the American, possibly a member of special forces in the area, as saying that hundreds of prisoners had been killed and hundreds injured.

Few, if any, were expected to survive after the night of relentless bombing.

Other reports said some prisoners blew themselves up with their guards, enabling other captives to seize weapons.

Many were killed and wounded on both sides, witnesses said.

About 40 US special forces troops had reached the fort but could not get inside because of the heavy fighting, said the US observer who fled the fort.

Thousands of foreign volunteers, including Pakistanis, Arabs and Chechens, are believed to have fought alongside Taliban troops in Kunduz.

However, the foreign volunteers are so loathed in Afghanistan that most of them are ready to fight till death, knowing they have little hope of escape in the barren land and fearing possibly violent retribution from Northern Alliance foes.

President Burhanuddin Rabbani, the nominal head of the multi-ethnic Northern Alliance, yesterday sought to allay fears of a bloodbath, saying that captured foreigners who had fought for the Taliban could be handed over to the United Nations.

BISHKEK: France has asked Kyrgyzstan for permission to base military aircraft in the country for operations in nearby Afghanistan, a senior Kyrgyz official said today.

Lira Sabyrova, head of the ex-Soviet republic’s Foreign Ministry press office, told newsmen the request came in a note from the French Foreign Ministry on Friday.

Sabyrova said the request was being considered, bearing in mind “regional geopolitical factors and the position of Kyrgyzstan in the fight against terrorism within the framework of the international coalition”.

Parliament would have to approve the stationing of foreign troops in the Central Asian state. Reuters
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Taliban lack military expertise
Gen Ashok K. Mehta

KAMAL Matinuddin, a former General in the Pakistan army, in his book, “The Taliban Phenomenon” has noted that the Taliban were the biggest clandestine operation undertaken by his country. He says it was wrong for Pakistan to seek a Sunni- Pashtun-Taliban government in Kabul as it could never bring stability to a multi-ethnic Afghanistan.

Further, the Taliban lacked military expertise and though they did have some well-trained former communists, the majority were semi-trained fighters, good against light opposition.

This time too, Mazar-e-Sharief (MeS) proved their nemesis as it had in 1997. Taliban defences in northern Afghanistan fell like a house of cards, except in Kunduz where thousands of their trapped fighters put up a struggle before surrendering. In 1997, 2000 Talibs with the help of local Pashtuns and Ghulam, the militia leader, had held out for weeks despite being surrounded by the Northern alliance (NA).

What has been played out now is the reverse of 1996 when the Taliban made rapidfire gains to conquer all but Badakshan province in Afghanistan. Just when the 35-day bombing campaign appeared to be getting nowhere, the NA grabbed the MeS in an operation reminiscent of their recapture of it in 1997.

It was the average of 100 sorties a day employing every conceivable fighter, bomber and transport aircraft that delivered precision-guided bombs and missiles and the dreaded 15,000 pound fuel air explosive bomb (which is equivalent in explosive content to the one dropped on Hiroshima) that tilted the balance in the NA’s favour.

This gave them the option to either launch operations from Bagram first for Kabul followed by clearing the rest of the North or the other way round. They chose the latter, a safer option and went for the MeS first.

The question is: what happened to the Taliban and why did they buckle under pressure when they were expected to give their opponents a hard time? The Taliban balloon burst in the North not so much due to carpet-bombing, though this was one of the factors, as owing to severing of external assistance and a u-turn in local support.

The bombing of Taliban defences had destroyed their rudimentary command, control and communication infrastructure, but their fighters were intact. With news of their leaders being on the run, individual garrison commanders decided to withdraw and scatter.

In the past, the Taliban have been more than a match for the NA. However, this time around, without the presence and backup of Pakistani commanders and combat support, they were caught without a strategy and the will to fight. Pakistan, in a hurriedly mounted operation, had to rescue Lt-Gen Said-ul-Zafar and Brig Rashid Shamim and Haider, the last two from the ISI, from the frontlines

The North is lost, the South is also cracking. The disruption in the chain of command, desertion by some local leaders and their supreme leaders on the run triggered off a virtual rout of their 50,000 Army beefed up by 2000 irregulars. It is estimated that 30,000 soldiers were deployed in the North — 6000 along the Amu Darya border in the North with sizeable garrisons at the MeS, Herat, Taloqan, Bagram, Kabul and Jalalabad. Of the remaining 20,000 Taliban initially located in the South, nearly 6000 were along the border of Pakistan guarding the routes of Peshawar and Quetta.

As of now, the Taliban have managed to hold out only around Kandahar where Mullah Omar is believed to be holed in. It is only a matter of time before the Taliban surrender or are defeated . Since the Taliban have not engaged the NA in conventional battle, everyone is expecting they will fight the war they are best at: hit and run. But events have moved so fast and the Taliban have taken such heavy casualties that they may not have the stamina and wherewithal for a guerrilla fight, especially after their benefactor, Pakistan, has dumped them.

The Taliban face serious operational handicaps. It is one thing, fighting against British, Soviet and foreign armies, quite another combating the indigenous NA and anti-Taliban Pashtuns. Even though Pakistan has washed its hand of the Taliban, the latter will be able to secure sanctuaries in the Pashtun and Baluch areas contiguous to the border.
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Anthrax letter potent enough to kill 1 lakh

Washington, November 26
An anthrax-spiked letter mailed to US Senator Patrick Leahy was so lethal that it could have killed 100,000 persons had it been opened, the Vermont legislator said on US television.

“It is so powerful that we’re having a hard time figuring out how to open it and still preserve the evidence,” said Mr Leahy, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” programme yesterday. AFP
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Protests over human embryo cloning
Cloning only for ‘lifesaving therapies’

Boston, November 26
Swift protests have been voiced by political and religious leaders against reported cloning of the first human embryo, though aimed at aiding stem cells research to treat a wide range of diseases, as they view it as a step towards cloning human beings.

Several states, including California, have banned human cloning, and Congress is considering such a ban. But company officials insisted their work is the first step in providing hope for people with spinal injuries, heart diseases and other ailments.

But the Washington DC-based National Right to Life Committee wasted little time yesterday denouncing the announcement.

“This corporation is creating human embryos for the sole purpose of killing them and harvesting their cells,” said the group’s legislative director Douglas Johnson. “Unless Congress acts quickly, this corporation and others will be opening human embryo farms.”

WASHINGTON: The White House has reiterated US President George W. Bush’s “100 per cent” opposition to human cloning in response to a medical breakthrough announced by a Massachusetts-based team of researchers.

The President has “made it clear 100 per cent that he is opposed to any type of human cloning,” White House spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise said yesterday.

Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) announced it had effectively cloned early-stage embryos with somatic nuclear cell transfers and, separately, had created preimplanted embryos from unfertilised eggs, which could eliminate one step in the cloning process.

ACT chief executive officer Dr Michael West, insisted that any research to create cloned embryos would be applied to therapies using stem cell technology to cure and treat life-threatening illness.

“We are just trying to help people who are sick,” Dr West said. “We’re not talking about a little embryo with hands and feet. We’re talking about a cluster of cells.”

Lawmakers were unconvinced - worried about the possible ramifications of such scientific breakthroughs.

ACT said it hoped the experiment would lead to tailored treatments for diseases ranging from Parkinson’s to juvenile diabetes.

ROME: The announcement of the cloning of the first human embryos provoked angry reactions across Italy and inside the Vatican today.

Defining it as “shocking’’ and “dangerous’’, newspapers printed the news on their front pages, along with critical comments and fiery editorials. AP, AFP, Reuters
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Atrocities heaped on B’desh Hindu women

Dhaka, November 26
Be it minor girls of eight years or women of 70, none have escaped sexual violence as atrocities against the minorities continue in the Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Hindu leaders allege.

Local newspapers are flooded with stories about atrocities heaped on the minority Hindu community that some reports say began even before the October 1 election in which a four-party alliance led by Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) came to power.

They say atrocities — beating, killing, torching homes, looting, shaving heads, sexual violence — still rage in Bangladesh, despite the BNP-led government’s express orders to bring the culprits to book.

“Arrest immediately whoever might be the terrorists,” Mr Abdul Mannan Bhuyian, Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister, had said.

Mr Bhuyian, also BNP secretary, alleged that a conspiracy to malign Prime Minister Zia’s government was behind the attacks on minorities and urged party activists to support Hindus.

Mr Chowdhury had initially said local media reports were exaggerated, but later admitted there were some cases of torture.

During Bangladesh’s nine-month war of independence in 1971, over 250,000 women fell victim to Pakistani forces.

Mr Brajesh Mishra, special envoy of Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, raised the issue with Mrs Zia during his visit to Bangladesh last month, Indian High Commission officials here said. IANS
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Suicide bombing in Gaza

Gaza, November 26
A Palestinian suicide bomber today blew himself up in a terminal at the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, wounding at least two soldiers, an army spokesman said. Reuters
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