Thursday, November 29, 2001, Chandigarh, India






National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Alliance troops take over fortress near Mazar
Over 600 die in prisoners’ failed revolt
Kabul, November 28
Northern Alliance troops on Wednesday took full control of a fortress where hundreds of captured Al-Qaida fighters loyal to Osama bin Laden died in a bloody revolt put down by U.S. bombing and fierce ground attacks.
A Northern Alliance fighter prepares to fight pro-Taliban forces
A Northern Alliance fighter prepares to fight pro-Taliban forces in a fortress near Mazar-e-Sharif on Tuesday. — Reuters photo

Don’t recognise Alliance, Russia told
Washington, November 28

The USA is opposed to Russia and other countries recognising the de facto Northern Alliance government in Kabul because it is not a “viable” authority, a senior US official has said.

Al-Qaida men in US dragnet
Washington, November 28

Members of the Al-Qaida network the US Government blames for the September 11 terror strikes may have been caught in a dragnet by law enforcement agencies, US Attorney-General John Ashcroft has revealed.

Freeze 152 Taliban men’s assets: UN
United Nations, November 28
The UN has ordered its 189 members to freeze assets of 152 Taliban officials, virtually everyone who held a government post on behalf of the former rulers of Afghanistan.

Pak agents on Laden trail
Washington, November 28

For the first time since September 11 strikes in the USA, Pakistani intelligence agents have entered Afghanistan with a task to track Osama bin Laden and frustrate Al-Qaeda’s attempts to search for a new base in Pakistan, according to a senior Pakistani intelligence official.




Teams of Russian emergency workers have arrived in Kabul to set up a field hospital and embassy.
(28k, 56k)




EARLIER STORIES

 

Move to reduce Hasina’s security
Dhaka, November 28
The Khaleda Zia government has taken steps to scrap a Parliament Act aimed at withdrawing special protection to her political foe, Ms Sheikh Hasina, the immediate past Prime Minister and President of the opposition Awami League.

Suharto’s son arrested
Jakarta, November 28
The Indonesian police said on Wednesday that it had arrested the fugitive son of former President Suharto, Hutomo “Tommy” Mandala Putra. “Yes he has been arrested, for details and the chronology please come to the police headquarters,” Jakarta police spokesman Anton Bahrul Alam said.
Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra and Jakarta Chief Inspector-General Sofjan Jacoeb
Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra (R) and Jakarta Chief Inspector-General Sofjan Jacoeb (L) attend a news conference in Jakarta on Wednesday. — Reuter photo


Planet outside solar system found
Washington, November 28

Astronomers, for the first time, have directly detected the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system, using the Hubble space telescope, NASA has announced. The roughly Jupiter-sized planet is located in the constellation Pegasus some 150 light years from earth. It orbits around a star similar to our sun, labelled HD 209458.

 
Filipino rebels free hostages
Zamboanga (Philippines), Nov 28
Heavily armed Muslim rebels released dozens of hostages today in exchange for safe passage through Philippine military forces that have besieged them for more than 24 hours.
A relative embraces a Filipino hostage freed by Muslim rebels
A relative embraces a Filipino hostage freed by Muslim rebels in southern Zamboanga city on Wednesday. — Reuters photo

Gunmen kill 6  in West Asia
Afula (Israel), November 28
Six persons were killed as hardline Palestinian gunmen ran amok in Israel and Gaza on day one of a top-level US peace mission to end 14 months of violence that has cost almost 1,000 lives.

Sharif’s kin back
Islamabad, November 28
The sudden return of the wife and two daughters of Mr Shahbaz Sharif, brother of the deposed premier Mr Nawaz Sharif, to Pakistan has sparked speculation with the military regime accusing the family of violating the agreement under which they were exiled to Saudi Arabia.Top








 

Alliance troops take over fortress near Mazar
Over 600 die in prisoners’ failed revolt
Michael Steen

Kabul, November 28
Northern Alliance troops on Wednesday took full control of a fortress where hundreds of captured Al-Qaida fighters loyal to Osama bin Laden died in a bloody revolt put down by U.S. bombing and fierce ground attacks.

Television footage showed the bodies of Al-Qaida fighters sprawled in trenches and littering the courtyards of the massive baked-mud Qala-i-Jhangi fortress after the revolt.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was in talks with the Northern Alliance to remove hundreds of bodies from the fort near Mazar-e-Sharif.

In the last stages of the battle, one Northern Alliance fighter laid a blanket on the back of a dead opponent and was using it to balance his Kalashnikov as he fired into a nearby basement.

A Northern Alliance commander said probably all 600 prisoners, including Pakistanis, Arabs and Chechens, and more than 40 Alliance fighters were killed in the fighting.

Five U.S. soldiers were injured by a stray American bomb during the battle.

“We are sorry that so many people did die in Mazar-e-Sharif,” Kenton Keith, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Taliban said. But he told a news conference in Islamabad that the bombing of the fortress was “not a massacre... not a reprisal”.

Keith said he had taken note of human rights group Amnesty International’s call for the anti-Taliban coalition to investigate the clashes.

Amnesty said: “It should make urgent recommendations to ensure that other instances of surrender and holding of prisoners do not lead to similar disorders and loss of life.”

“The outcome of this inquiry, and any disciplinary or other measures that may be taken against anyone found responsible for wrongdoing, should be made public.”

ICRC spokesman Bernard Barrett said the Red Cross, which has been collecting and burying Taliban troops killed in areas captured by the Alliance, had been asked to help remove the dead.

“These negotiations are still going on... We hope shortly to start this work,” Barrett said.

Chaman (Pakistan): The Taliban were holding on to the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak today, locals said, despite heavy US Bombing of the area and chaotic surrender talks with thousands of tribal fighters massed near the town.

Locals said the Taliban had stepped up security in this, dusty town on the smuggling route between Quetta and Kandahar, and were also strengthening their presence at the border.

Taliban security official Qari Abdullah said the Taliban had no orders to withdraw.

Wakil Samad Nurzai, an anti-Taliban Pashtun commander, said tribal forces could push the fundamentalist militia out of Spin Boldak within hours but were waiting for the result of surrender talks.

But the chaotic negotiations were complicated by disputes between rival Pashtun tribes. The confusion reflected a struggle for the spoils of war among Afghanistan’s traditionally dominant Pashtuns as the Taliban’s authority crumbled.

It highlighted fears that the Taliban’s collapse could lead to a repeat of the abuses they had sought to eradicate.

Opposition leaders say four anti-Taliban commanders are vying to take over Spin Boldak, a major hub for smugglers, traders and the powerful trucking mafia. Reuters
Top

 

Don’t recognise Alliance, Russia told

Washington, November 28
The USA is opposed to Russia and other countries recognising the de facto Northern Alliance government in Kabul because it is not a “viable” authority, a senior US official has said.

“We’ve had some concern about countries not rushing to establish diplomatic relations with the so-called Rabbani government on the basis that we do not see this as something that is going to be viable,” the official said yesterday.

The official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity at the state department, referred to Burhanuddin Rabbani, former President, who is recognized as the country’s leader by the United Nations.

“We have been encouraging countries that even if (they establish something on the ground ... to facilitate diplomatic contacts, do humanitarian efforts ... that it not in any way be construed as constituting normal diplomatic relations or recognition of the so-called Rabbani Government,” the US official said.

“That is not going to be a viable successor to the Taliban.”

Shortly after Rabbani’s return to Kabul, early this month, Iran reopened its embassy there and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Moscow would soon set up a permanent diplomatic mission in the city. AFP
Top

 

Al-Qaida men in US dragnet

Washington, November 28
Members of the Al-Qaida network the US Government blames for the September 11 terror strikes may have been caught in a dragnet by law enforcement agencies, US Attorney-General John Ashcroft has revealed.

“We believe we have Al-Qaida members in custody,” he told reporters here yesterday.

“A number of the individuals that are being detained ... are suspected terrorists.”

He said, however, that for security reasons he was not going to release the names of the detainees suspected of association with the network led by Saudi-born extremist Osama bin Laden.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies have detained over 1,000 people in the aftermath of the attacks that toppled the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, according to justice officials.

Mr Ashcroft said 104 of the detainees had already had criminal charges filed against them, while another 548 individuals were being held for immigration violations.

He said the federal government would not pay for legal counsel provided for those held on suspicion of terrorist activity. AFP

MANILA: Two Palestinians and a Jordanian have been arrested in the Philippines for running an extremist network suspected of links to Osama bin Laden and recruiting local Muslims to join, the police said today.

The three foreigners, in their 30s, were arrested in raids on two houses in Manila and an office in Sultan Kudarat province on southern Mindanao island last week, it said in a statement.

“The arrested foreign nationals are believed to have established a network in the country believed to be part of a support system with suspected link to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network,” the statement said.

Police identified the three local groups as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf. All operate in the country’s south. AFP, Reuters
Top

 

Freeze 152 Taliban men’s assets: UN

United Nations, November 28
The UN has ordered its 189 members to freeze assets of 152 Taliban officials, virtually everyone who held a government post on behalf of the former rulers of Afghanistan.

The 11-page list, posted yesterday by a UN Security Council sanctions committee, adds another 127 names of individuals, groups or businesses associated with the Taliban or Saudi-born Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaida network.

Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban’s spiritual leader and founder, heads the list along with Mullah Mohammad Rabbani, Chairman of the Council of Ministers. The entire Taliban representation in Pakistan is included as well as its former Consulate officials in various cities in that country.

The list incorporates many of the names and groups citied by the USA since September 11 in an effort to choke off funds in Bin Laden’s network.

But the UN document is longer and has a wider global reach in making the freeze mandatory for all its members.

Trade and charity groups, some with their addresses, are named in capitals in each continent. The list includes the whole Al-Barakaat financial network, a Somali-based operation, with branches in Europe and North America.

Al-Barakaat is used by thousands of Somalis abroad to send money to relatives at home.

Other names are the Wafa Humanitarian Organisation, with offices in Peshawar, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. And the list included Afghan-related businesses, such as the Ariane Airlines account in Citibank’s New Delhi, India, branch and the Agricultural Development Bank of Afghanistan in Britain Reuters
Top

 

Pak agents on Laden trail

Washington, November 28
For the first time since September 11 strikes in the USA, Pakistani intelligence agents have entered Afghanistan with a task to track Osama bin Laden and frustrate Al-Qaeda’s attempts to search for a new base in Pakistan, according to a senior Pakistani intelligence official.

The official in Islamabad was quoted by the Washington Post about the new Pakistani operation in Afghanistan.

Another senior Pakistani intelligence official said: “All our eyes and ears in Afghanistan are currently devoted to the search for Osama bin Laden and his associates. There is a definite evidence that he has moved close to our borders.”

While publicly General Musharraf and his top advisers have sought to play down fears of Bin Laden or Taliban incursions into Pakistan, said the newspaper, “privately, senior Pakistani officials are not so confident, suggesting there is a serious threat that remnants of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban could find refuge here (in Pakistan)”. PTI
Top

 

Move to reduce Hasina’s security
Atiqur Rahman
Tribune News Service

Dhaka, November 28
The Khaleda Zia government has taken steps to scrap a Parliament Act aimed at withdrawing special protection to her political foe, Ms Sheikh Hasina, the immediate past Prime Minister and President of the opposition Awami League. The ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) moved a Bill in Parliament today to repeal the Father of the Nation Family Members Security Act, which was most hurriedly passed on June 21 this year to provide special security protection to Ms Hasina, her younger sister Sheikh Rehana and their family members.

Under the Act Ms Sheikh Hasina was allotted Ganabhaban, so long used by her as her official residence. However, before the Parliament elections she vacated the palatial house. Her sister Sheikh Rehana has been allotted a house by the government.

The Bill is likely to be passed on Sunday and with that, all special security protection to the sisters, besides facilities like house and allowance will be withdrawn. The Awami League government also made attempts to remove Ms Khaleda Zia from her Dhaka Cantonment residence which was allotted to her after the assassination of her husband, General Ziaur Rahman, on May 30, 1981.

The moving of the Bill aimed at scrapping the Act is the second move by the BNP government to undo another step in this regard. Last week, the Cabinet had cancelled the allocation of Ganabhaban to Ms Hasina and declared it as the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Awami League has reacted sharply to the move. Party general secretary Zillur Rahman in a press statement, expressed concern from the security of Ms Hasina and her family members. The party feels that since the trial and conviction of the 12 killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of Ms Hasina, the family is under threat from the nine absconding convicts.

In a hurriedly called meeting of the party’s Executive Committee and heads of front organisations, the Awami League today decided to oppose the move. It will observe an Eight-hour countrywide hartal on December 2, the day the Bill is likely to be adopted by Parliament. The Awami League is boycotting the parliamentary session.

The Dhaka City unit of the Awami League has organised a public rally today and brought out a protest procession in the afternoon. Speakers at the rally criticised the BNP for acting only for vendetta against its rivals.
Top

 

Suharto’s son arrested

Jakarta, November 28
The Indonesian police said on Wednesday that it had arrested the fugitive son of former President Suharto, Hutomo “Tommy” Mandala Putra.

“Yes he has been arrested, for details and the chronology please come to the police headquarters,” Jakarta police spokesman Anton Bahrul Alam said.

He said Tommy was arrested on Wednesday in Jakarta’s southern suburb of Bintaro after more than a year on the run.

Tommy’s lawyer Elza Syarief told local television that she had called the police to verify the report and had been summoned to the police headquarters.

“I have not seen him personally, the Jakarta police chief has told me that he has been arrested,” Ms Syarief told Metro television, referring to Tommy.

“He is now in the Jakarta police chief’s room,” she added.

Tommy has been on the run for more than a year after being handed an 18-month jail sentence over $11 million land scam.

But the decision was overturned last month by the Supreme Court which described it as a grave mistake.

The once all-powerful Suharto family has been the focus of several graft probes since the former General stepped down amid social chaos in 1998.

Only Tommy, Mr Suharto’s youngest and favourite son, has been convicted of corruption.

Tommy is also being sought by the police over the killing of one of the judges who convicted him and over a series of bombings in the Capital.

Critics accuse Mr Suharto and his six children of corruptly amassing up to $45 billion during his 32-year rule. All Suhartos have denied any wrongdoing. Reuters 
Top

 

Planet outside solar system found

Washington, November 28
Astronomers, for the first time, have directly detected the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system, using the Hubble space telescope, NASA has announced.

The roughly Jupiter-sized planet is located in the constellation Pegasus some 150 light years from earth. It orbits around a star similar to our sun, labelled HD 209458.

“This opens up an exciting phase of extra-solar planet exploration, where we can begin to compare and contrast the atmospheres of planets around other stars,” an enthusiastic David Charbonneau, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, told a press conference yesterday.

To date, astronomers have identified some 70 planets outside our solar system, including 15 “hot-Jupiter”-type planets such as the one spotted by the Hubble.

Unlike Jupiter, the newly-detected planet is very close to its sun, at a distance of 6.4 million km. Its atmosphere is very hot, up to 1,100 degrees (2,000 degrees fahrenheit), Charbonneau added.

Observations by the earth-orbiting Hubble telescope show evidence of salt on the planet, which has a mass of 70 times that of Jupiter and 220 times that of earth.

The “very thick” atmosphere of the planet rules out the possibility that life as we know it on earth exists there, said Timothy Brown of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

To date, astronomers have identified some 70 planets outside our solar system, including about 15 so-called “hot Jupiter” planets similar to the one spotted by the Hubble telescope. But this marks the first time that the atmosphere around such a planet has been detected.

Unlike Jupiter, the newly-detected planet is very close to its sun, at a distance of 6.4 million km and its atmosphere is very hot, upto 1,100 degrees, Charbonneau added. AFP
Top

 

Filipino rebels free hostages

Zamboanga (Philippines), Nov 28
Heavily armed Muslim rebels released dozens of hostages today in exchange for safe passage through Philippine military forces that have besieged them for more than 24 hours.

They had freed a group of 21 hostages earlier. Then, after enduring a series of assaults by war planes, helicopter gunships and infantry, and wading through all-night negotiations, about 250 heavily armed rebels loyal to renegade Muslim region Governor Nur Misuari departed aboard trucks that were to take them to another guerrilla base.

They left behind the hostages, estimated earlier at 40 to 60 people, and government negotiators took custody of them today. An airport bus was brought in to take them away, and army doctors and nurses were on standby to provide medical check-ups.

Military spokesman Lt Col Danilo Servando said the rebels were going to a rebel base near the town of Taguite in the province of Zamobanga Del Sur.

Under the agreement, the military also freed 10 rebels captured in fighting yesterday.

Rebel leader Julhambri Misuari, nephew of the arrested Governor, said in an interview with DZMM radio that he was releasing the hostages in exchange for a guarantee of safe passage.

“As of this time we will not file criminal charges,” said the military spokesman. AP
Top

 

Gunmen kill 6 in West Asia

Afula (Israel), November 28
Six persons were killed as hardline Palestinian gunmen ran amok in Israel and Gaza on day one of a top-level US peace mission to end 14 months of violence that has cost almost 1,000 lives.

In the northern Israeli town of Afula, two teenage Palestinian gunmen killed two Israelis and wounded 34 others in a rampage through the centre before being shot dead by the police yesterday.

The attack was claimed by the hardline Islamic Jehad, which said the operation was carried out with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. The 19-year-old gunmen, one from each organisation, were killed by the police after a spree lasting more than 10 minutes, witnesses said.

As Israel was reeling from the attack, Palestinian gunmen blasted an Israeli convoy heading for a Jewish settlement in the southern Gaza Strip, killing a woman and injuring three other settlers.

Israeli troops returned the fire and killed a Palestinian man. AFP
Top

 

Sharif’s kin back

Islamabad, November 28
The sudden return of the wife and two daughters of Mr Shahbaz Sharif, brother of the deposed premier Mr Nawaz Sharif, to Pakistan has sparked speculation with the military regime accusing the family of violating the agreement under which they were exiled to Saudi Arabia.

The three returned two days ago to Lahore and visited their relatives and leaders of the Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League, inviting attention of both media and the government. PTI
Top

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