Tuesday, December 4, 2001, Chandigarh, India






National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D
Maoists set off another bomb in
Kathmandu, 5 killed

Entry point to capital also bombed
Kathmandu, December 3

Suspected Maoists set off two bombs in and around the Nepalese capital this evening killing five persons and injuring some as the army continued its crackdown against rebels, and the government said over 300 more guerrillas have surrendered and a large cache of arms and ammunition seized.

5 Palestinians shot; Hamas protest
Nablus (West Bank), December 3
Israeli soldiers shot dead five Palestinians in two incidents, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.

Sikhs seek control of Pak gurdwaras
S
ikhs around the world are demanding that Pakistan should hand over control of gurdwaras in that country to members of the community and remove generals who helped Talibanise Afghanistan and are now busy converting gurdwaras into madrassas and residential quarters.

Hasbaiya (South Lebanon): Prominent Lebanese Druze community leader Sheikh Fundi commends the Indian peacekeeping contingent for widespread humanitarian assistance by Gurkha troops in the war-ravaged border area with Israel and looks to India for educational opportunities for his people . —PTI photo

WAR STORIES

Italy raids units in Laden hunt 
Milan, December 3
The Italian tax police today said it was searching a dozen companies in and around Milan as part of the crackdown on Islamic cells allegedly supporting Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network.

Omar won’t give up, says ex-minister
Kabul, December 3
The Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar will fight to the death in Kandahar, his last bastion, rather than surrender to the USA or Afghan rivals, a top defector said today.
In Video:
The Former Deputy Interior Minister of the Taliban has defected.  (28k, 56k)

Bodies of 40 US soldiers flown back home
Islamabad, December 3
The bodies of 40 American soldiers, killed in action against the Taliban militia and the Al Qaeda men in Afghanistan, have been flown back to the USA from Jacobabad in Sindh province of Pakistan.



British pop singer Elton John, whose string of hits has made him one of the richest stars in the music business, has said it's time to let the sun go down on his recording career. John, shown performing in Hong Kong on November 17, 2001, stunned his audience at a US concert last weekend by saying his latest album, 'Songs From The West Coast,' would be his last, his London-based spokesman said.
— Reuters



EARLIER STORIES
 
VIDEOS
World Economic Forum President Klaus Schwab says the terrorist attacks on the USA offer a chance to the global community to move in a multilateral direction.
(28k, 56k)
The doors to Afghanistan's National Museum in Kabul have been opened for the first time since the collapse of the Taliban rule.
(28k, 56k)

An American Taliban held
New York, December 3
A 20-year-old American who fought with the Taliban and survived the bloody Kala Jangi prison uprising near Mazar-i-Sharif last week has been taken into custody by the US Special Forces troops, Newsweek magazine has said on its website.

Afghan ex-President in Pak
Islamabad, December 3
Former Afghan President Sibghatullah Mojaddadi today arrived here to discuss Afghanistan’s future political set-up with Pakistani leaders.

Warlord who is feared more than Taliban
Chaman, December 3
It is a hidden war that the world has ignored. But the chaos, rape, murder and pillaging that have swept southern Afghanistan are writ large on the faces of the fortunate few who escape.

Pre-poll violence toll rises to 21
Colombo, December 3
The last day of sweltering election campaigns, which ended last midnight turned out to be a disaster with the death toll in the pre-poll violence rising from 17 to 21.


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Maoists set off another bomb in
Kathmandu, 5 killed

Entry point to capital also bombed

Kathmandu, December 3
Suspected Maoists set off two bombs in and around the Nepalese capital this evening killing five persons and injuring some as the army continued its crackdown against rebels, and the government said over 300 more guerrillas have surrendered and a large cache of arms and ammunition seized.

Witnesses said a bomb went off outside a Tibetan carpet factory at Ekantakuna killing five pedestrians.

However, Home Ministry sources said only a carpet factory worker was killed and three others were injured when a bag handed over to the deceased by an unidentified person exploded.

Another bomb rocked Kalanki, the entry point to Kathmandu, but no casualty was reported, the sources said.

This is the second time that explosions have rocked the capital since government launched the offensive against Maoists. Two pipe-bombs had exploded at a Coca-Cola plant on Thursday damaging a portion of its boundary wall.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said the operation against the rebels was being carried out “quite successfully” and the situation in Maoist-affected areas has improved considerably.

In the meantime, Defence Secretary Padam Kumar Acharya said the military had inflicted heavy casualties on Maoist rebels as an offensive against the renewed insurgency entered a second week.

“Our forces have launched assaults on the rebels who have suffered heavy casualties” during the past week, however, the authorities, which imposed sweeping curbs on freedom of speech as part of a state of emergency declared last Monday, are keeping tight-lipped about any military casualties.

The rebels, battling to install a communist republic in the desperately poor nation of 23 million people, have also made no statements about casualties.

But analysts said the offensive by the 45,000-strong army, which has carried out many U.N. peacekeeping missions but never fought a guerrilla war at home, could turn out to be lengthy.

“This is a war of attrition,” Dhurba Kumar, analyst at the Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, told newsmen. “No one can say how long it will last.”

Defence officials have said the battle against the rebels, led by a former school teacher Prachanda, would be hard because of the rough terrain where there is the most fighting.

The area of the worst clashes is in remote, mountainous region where the Maoists have driven out the police and set up their own governments in some districts.

King Gyanendra deployed the army last week in a bid to crush the rebels, thought to number upwards of 5,000, after a wave of new guerrilla attacks and the government has asked for military supplies from India to help end the revolt.

The Maoists have close ties with extreme leftists in India where members of a Maoist group, the People’s War Group, blew up the home of a minister in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh at the weekend.

The Nepal Government mobilised more troops at the weekend to hunt down the insurgents holed up in their mountain camps.

At least 200 people have been killed since the rebels resumed their violence and ruptured a four-month-old peace process. More than 2,000 rebels, security personnel and civilians have lost their lives since the conflict began in early 1996. PTI, Reuters
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5 Palestinians shot; Hamas protest


Smokes rises over the area of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Gaza office after it was hit by Israeli missiles on Monday. Israel launched a missile attack on Gaza City in an apparent response to a wave of deadly Palestinian suicide bombings inside Israel. —Reuters photo

Nablus (West Bank), December 3
Israeli soldiers shot dead five Palestinians in two incidents, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.

A Palestinian security source said a member of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, Mohammed Sunjak, 19, was shot in the head near the West Bank city of Tulkarem late yesterday.

Earlier, four Palestinians were gunned down in an exchange of fire with Israeli soldiers in the area of the nearby West Bank city of Jenin, the Israeli sources said.

A report from Gaza City said the Palestinian police arrested three senior leaders of the hardline Hamas group in a crackdown that netted more than 75 Islamic militants following a wave of suicide attacks in Israel, a Palestinian security source said.

A Hamas official confirmed the arrests of two senior leaders, Ismail Abu Shanab and Ismail Haniya, and said the police had issued arrest warrants for another two, but he refused to name them.

The security source yesterday said more than 75 militants from Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jehad were rounded after the Palestinian leadership vowed to crack down on them for a wave of anti-Israeli suicide assaults.

Most of the arrests came after the Palestinian leadership declared a state of emergency in the Palestinian territories giving the police sweeping powers to round up militants.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 Hamas supporters called for more suicide attacks against Israel during a march at a funeral in the Gaza Strip today, despite a ban by the Palestinian Authority on public gatherings by militant groups.

“Forward with martyrdom attacks!” the crowd chanted at the funeral of a Hamas gunman killed by Israeli soldiers after he shot dead an Israeli nuclear scientist driving in northern Gaza to collect his son from an army base.

Some fired in the air from automatic rifles while others kneeled to pray in gratitude for the attacks.

Palestinian police apparently did nothing to intervene or enforce the ban on unlicenced demonstrations. AFP, Reuters
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Sikhs seek control of Pak gurdwaras

Sikhs around the world are demanding that Pakistan should hand over control of gurdwaras in that country to members of the community and remove generals who helped Talibanise Afghanistan and are now busy converting gurdwaras into madrassas and residential quarters.

The latest representation in August came from Canada which has the largest concentration of expatriate Sikhs after Britain. Indian Sikhs who make an annual pilgrimage to shrines in Pakistan have also been demanding that the administration and upkeep of the gurdwaras be handed over to the Sikhs living in that country. “Vatican Status” for the Sikh shrines has been a long-standing demand of the International Sikh Federation.

During the ‘Khalistani’ movement the Pakistan government allowed the terrorists to use the gurdwaras as sanctuaries and bases for operations against India. When the movement collapsed Pakistan shifted in focus to Jammu and Kashmir and tried to impose the two-nation theory with the help of the products of its madrassas and foreign mercenaries.

The success of the Taliban in Afghanistan was used as blueprint for the revival of separatism in Punjab and that is why the General, who executed the programme of training the “Talibs” in Pakistani madrassas in the use of weapons to replace the Mujahideen commanders who had taken over Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, was given charge of “Sikh affairs”.

Lt. Gen Javed Nasir was appointed Chairman of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) and he tried to recruit terrorists from among the pilgrims who visited the shrines every year. When Indian Sikhs objected, they were maltreated and insulted.

General Nasir was given funds to revive Sikh militancy but he used the office to feather his own nest in keeping with the tradition of the Pakistan Army. The National Accountability Bureau set by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to hound the Bhuttos carefully covered up his misdeeds even as the Pakistani media highlighted the venality of topranking military personnel ranging from landgrabbing to siphoning of funds.

General Nasir ran a lucrative money-laundering racket with the help of the Sikh militants, particularly those from Canada. It is not without significance that Gen Pervez Musharraf should have thought it worthwhile to continue the policy of militarising the SGPC and has appointed Maj-Gen Inayatullah Khan Niyaz (Retd) in place of Nasir.

Evidence of the Talibanisation of the Sikhs in Pakistan is in the appointment of the co-chairman of the PSGPC by person whose wife and children practice Islam. The langar hall of the Gurdwara Bhole Singh in Nowshera has been converted into a madrassa. The gurdwara at Mardan has perforce to function on private land because its building and annexes have been taken over by Muslim families who have refused to vacate the premises.— ADNI
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Italy raids units in Laden hunt 

Milan, December 3
The Italian tax police today said it was searching a dozen companies in and around Milan as part of the crackdown on Islamic cells allegedly supporting Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network.

In a statement, it said some 50 anti-mob officers were involved in the swoop in Italy’s financial capital, nearby Varese and other towns in the northern Lombardy region.

The raids were part of an investigation to hunt out “every possible kind of financing of subversive activities” behind the September 11 attacks the USA.

The police is in particular searching for evidence that false invoices might be a cover for “illegal financing of terrorist networks”.

The searches were made on the orders of the office of the state prosecutor, whose probe into suspected supporters of the Al-Qaida last week resulted in the arrest of three suspected Islamic militants.

Moroccan Chekkouri Yassine, Tunisian Benattia Nabil and Algerian Remadna Abdelhalim Hafed were interrogated by investigating magistrate Luca Pistorelli on Monday, court sources said.

The three are accused of belonging to a cell of Islamic militants directly linked to Al-Qaida.

The police arrested an Egyptian, suspected of being an Islamic militant with links to Bin Laden, at Rome’s Fiumicino airport late on Friday.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the man, named Samir Kishk, was under investigation for involvement in trafficking arms, explosives, chemicals and false documents.

It said an Italian prosecutor had issued a detention order against Kishk (46) in October for his alleged role in the Bin Laden-linked radical Algerian group, “Salafite Cell for Preaching and Fighting”, which is based in Milan.

Kishk, who lives in Paris, was stopping over in Rome on his way to Paris from Cairo.

The USA has said Milan’s Islamic cultural institute is the main European logistics base for Bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network. Muslim leaders in Italy deny this. Bin Laden is the main suspect behind the September hijacked airliner attacks that killed almost 4,000 persons in New York and Washington.

Since the attacks, the police has arrested suspected extremists linked to Al-Qaida in several European countries, including Britain, France, Belgium and Spain. Reuters
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Omar won’t give up, says ex-minister

Kabul, December 3
The Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar will fight to the death in Kandahar, his last bastion, rather than surrender to the USA or Afghan rivals, a top defector said today.

“One point is clear. He knows that with or without a fight the Americans will kill him for sure,’’ Haji Mullah Khaksar, the Taliban’s former Deputy Interior Minister, said.

“It is and was in his character to fight to the death.” Khaksar, a known moderate in the leadership of the fundamentalist Taliban, stayed on when the Northern Alliance forces entered Kabul on November 13 on the heels of the Taliban retreat under the weight of the US air strikes.

Speaking at his home in the Afghan capital, he said he had heard that the Islamic militia’s intelligence chief had defected in the town of Ghazni, south of Kabul, but had not been able to confirm it.

Khaksar said the killing of some 600 Taliban and foreign fighters following a revolt at the Qali-i-Janghi fortress in northern Afghanistan after they had surrendered to the Northern Alliance would have stiffened resistance in Kandahar.

Khaksar said Osama’s cash had helped fund the Taliban military, but not on a regular, institutionalised basis. He said Bin Laden would hand over large sums in cash — anything between $ 5,000 and $ 100,000 — and four-wheel-drive pick-ups, a favoured fighting vehicle in Afghanistan, whenever the Taliban suffered military setbacks.

Al Qaida forces fighting had been under Mullah Omar’s command, but Bin Laden had been given free rein to pursue his “jihad” (holy war) outside the country. Reuters
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Bodies of 40 US soldiers flown back home

Islamabad, December 3
The bodies of 40 American soldiers, killed in action against the Taliban militia and the Al Qaeda men in Afghanistan, have been flown back to the USA from Jacobabad in Sindh province of Pakistan.

The Frontier Post, quoting well informed sources, said today that 40 coffins containing the bodies of US marines have been flown back to the USA.

The bodies were recovered on Saturday morning. These were then airlifted to the Dalbindin air base in Baluchistan for onward journey to Jacobabad and finally back to the USA, it said.

The USA had suffered these casualties in an ambush attack by suicide commandos of the Taliban in Baldek and Tahkta Pul which is under the control of a local anti-Taliban commander Haji Gul Agha.

More than 10,000 US troops were reportedly in south Afghanistan.

The spokesman for the coalition forces here had earlier accepted the incidents of casualties but refused to disclose the number. UNI


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An American Taliban held

New York, December 3
A 20-year-old American who fought with the Taliban and survived the bloody Kala Jangi prison uprising near Mazar-i-Sharif last week has been taken into custody by the US Special Forces troops, Newsweek magazine has said on its website.

The man, described by Newsweek yesterday as “a White, educated-sounding, apparently middle-class American,’’ who identified himself only as Abdul Hamid, was taken into custody on Saturday at a hospital where he had been taken for treatment of minor gunshot and shrapnel wounds.

The Special Forces soldiers who detained Hamid took him aside for treatment and later left with him, doctors told the magazine. A Northern Alliance military source said the US soldiers had taken Hamid to Mazar-i-Sharif, adding that the US forces refused to comment on his whereabouts.

Hamid told Newsweek earlier he was a Washington, D.C. native but indicated the he grew up elsewhere in the USA. He said he converted to Islam at age 16 and later went to Pakistan to study the Koran. Reuters
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Afghan ex-President in Pak

Islamabad, December 3
Former Afghan President Sibghatullah Mojaddadi today arrived here to discuss Afghanistan’s future political set-up with Pakistani leaders.

“Professor Mojaddadi has decided to return in view of the developments in Afghanistan to work for the peaceful settlement of the crisis in Afghanistan,” Syed Wajid Bacha, his spokesman, told the Frontier Post.

Professor Mojaddadi, the chief of the Afghan National Liberation Front, had been living in Denmark for five years. UNI 
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Warlord who is feared more than Taliban
Paul Harris

Chaman, December 3
It is a hidden war that the world has ignored. But the chaos, rape, murder and pillaging that have swept southern Afghanistan are writ large on the faces of the fortunate few who escape.

Abdul Abdullah was lucky. As an ethnic Pashtun living in a village near Herat, he fled the approach of the Tajik and Hazara forces which captured the city. He headed for the fenced border with Pakistan. His cousin, Aziz Khan, was not so lucky. He and his wife, Fatma, went West toward Iran but did not make it. They and 20 other Pashtun families were stopped at a checkpoint, one of hundreds appearing across southern Afghanistan. The men, including Aziz, were herded up into the mountains and shot. The young women were taken away.

Abdullah will not say what he thinks happened to Fatma. But the truth seems obvious. “I know they let most of the women go, but they kept the young and pretty ones like Fatma,” he said.

The landscape, Abdullah, crossed on his trek towards south, is a land of warring anarchy. In many areas Taliban forces are still in control, but in others local Pashtun warlords rule by rape, robbery and murder. Armed gangs rob and kill lorry drivers who are the economic lifeblood of the region.

Noor Mohamed saw the effects of one of those missions. As a wheat trader plying between the Pakistani border town of Chaman and the Afghan city of Ghazni last week, he witnessed a burnt-out, twisted mess just North of Kandahar were the smoking remains of a 15-lorry fuel convoy.

In the villages around Kandahar there is a name that provokes horror and fear. It is not Mullah Omar, nor is it Osama bin Laden. It is Gul Agha, the former governor of Kandahar, whose militia is backed and advised by the USA.

For the Pashtuns of the South, the Taliban did not mean oppression and taking away women’s rights. They had never known anything different. However, the Taliban did bring freedom from thugs and the rule of the gun. In the time of the Taliban I could walk down the street with Rs 30,000 and no one would touch me.

Such feelings have seen the Taliban win back some ground. Khalat fell for three days to local tribal forces. The bazaar was looted while residents cowered in their houses. Then the Taliban returned and the residents cheered.

Takhteh Pol, a vital town on the road from Kandahar to Pakistan, was also recaptured by the Taliban last week, according to reliable Afghan and Pakistani sources. The town had endured several days of rule by Agha’s men, when one of his commanders boasted of executing 160 Taliban prisoners.

“They were made to stand in a long line and five or six of our fighters used light machine guns to kill them,” the commander told a French news agency, adding that US special forces attached to Agha had tried and failed to stop the shootings. The USA has denied that the massacre happened, but after the slaughter of hundreds of Taliban in Mazar-e-Sharif, the Takhteh Pol killings sounded all too plausible.

The collapse of Taliban rule over much of Afghanistan has laid bare the country’s ethnic bones, exposing old hatreds. Hundreds of refugees in the crowded camps near Chaman are from Mazar-e-Sharif. They are all Pashtuns, who have fled rather than live under the rule of the Uzbek soldiers of Northern Alliance Gen Rashid Dostum.

They tell of ethnic cleansing of Pashtuns in the north and say they had no choice but to flee south to the Pashtun - and Taliban - heartland. Haji Khira Ghol left behind his vineyard and market stall when he fled a day before Mazar-e-Sharif fell. “The mercy of an Uzbek is worse than the greatest cruelty of the Pashtuns,’ he shouted angrily. He said 5,000 Pashtuns from his region had fled their homes.

Other stories recounted by Pashtun refugees from Mazar-e-Sharif are similar. Mohamed Aslan fled his farm 10 days ago. He is terrified of the Northern Alliance and their men. He could not stay in the city of his birth. Among the refugees fleeing the anarchy, the USA has few friends. “If the Americans had brought peace, that would have been a good thing. But instead they have just brought us war and looting and the men of Gul Agha,” said Aslan. Observer News Service
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Pre-poll violence toll rises to 21

Colombo, December 3
The last day of sweltering election campaigns, which ended last midnight turned out to be a disaster with the death toll in the pre-poll violence rising from 17 to 21.

The police imposed indefinite curfew in several areas in the Anuradhapura district last night as the violence escalated. The military assistance was also requested to keep the situation under control.

The curfew was imposed after one person was killed and 13 others were injured critically when a grenade exploded during a procession of the ruling PA candidate at Madatugama, Anuradhapura in the countrys north-central province.

The police said that the supporters of the PA candidate had attacked UNP supporters on the same morning and the grenade explosion could have been in retaliation.

In a another incident in the eastern Trincomalee district one PA supporter was killed when they clashed with the UNP supporters at China Bay. UNI
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