Monday, December 10, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

20 die in Alliance chopper crash

Kabul, December 9
A Northern Alliance military helicopter crashed overnight in northern Afghanistan, killing 20 persons, including two anti-Taliban commanders, officials said today.

A foreign ministry official in the northern town of Taloqan said the Mi-8 helicopter had left the town bound for Kabul with 20 military personnel on board.

He had no details on the circumstances of the crash and said rescue workers had not yet reached the site.

“There were only military personnel and the number of dead is 20,” the official told Reuters in Kabul by satellite telephone.

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) said the helicopter crashed at Farkhar, about 35 km (22 miles) south east of Taloqan, capital of mountainous Takhar province bordering Tajikistan.

Among the victims was Mohammad Mustafa, commander of a unit which had guarded the Alliance’s late military chief Ahmad Shah Masood, who was assassinated two days before the September 11 attacks on the USA, AIP quoted an Alliance spokesman as saying.

A Pashtoon pro-Taliban commander named Arbab Mohammad Hashim, who defected to the Alliance after the Taliban collapsed in the northern province of Kunduz, also died in the crash, AIP aided. Reuters 


Videotape proves Laden’s hand in attacks: paper

Washington, December 9
The US Government has gained possession of a videotape of Osama Bin Laden in which the Al-Qaida leader appears to indicate his prior knowledge of the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington, the Washington Post reported today.

The videotape was being regarded as providing the most conclusive evidence yet that Bin Laden was responsible for the attacks, contrary to his claims that he knew nothing about them.

The newspaper cited unnamed government sources who had seen the 40-minute tape as saying that Bin Laden spoke about the attacks in which the damage in New York had been greater than he had expected — an indication that he knew beforehand about the plans.

The officials said the tape shows Bin Laden demonstrating with outstretched hands to explain that he had expected only the top of the World Trade Center towers to collapse, from the point where the planes struck.

The total collapse had been unexpected, he said on the tape, which the US officials said had been acquired in a private home in Jalalabad. Washington first sent the tape to experts for review to ascertain that it was not some kind of fake. The experts verified that videotape was “legitimate”, the Washington Post said. DPABack


UK to hand over Bin Laden to USA

London, December 9
British troops would hand Osama bin Laden over to the USA if they captured him in Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said today — but only on condition he do not face the death penalty.

Mr Hoon told the British Broadcasting Corp’s “Breakfast with Frost” programme that extradition would require “certain undertakings” from the US authorities.

But he said the USA would be the best country to try Bin Laden, prime suspect in the September 11 suicide attacks in New York and Washington.

As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights Britain may not extradite suspects to countries where the death penalty is used, unless that country guarantees that the suspect will not face execution. All European Union countries have banned capital punishment.

“We do extradite people to countries with the death penalty, obviously subject to certain undertakings,” Mr Hoon told the BBC. AP


Indian Embassy to open in Kabul on Dec 22
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 9
The Indian Embassy in Kabul will start functioning from December 22 and to put things in place a senior-level composite team of officials of the Ministries of External Affairs and Home will leave for the Afghan capital very shortly by a special plane.

In another important imminent development Afghanistan interim government’s Foreign Minister-designate, Mr Abdullah Abdullah, will come here on an official visit on December 12, well-placed sources told The Tribune here today.

During his brief but significant visit here — the second such visit by an Afghan minister-designate after the just-concluded visit of Interior Minister-designate, Mr Younous Qanooni — Mr Abdullah would be meeting Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr L. K. Advani and Mr Jaswant Singh. He is expected to be here for two days.

The plane with team officials would be leaving for Kabul before Mr Abdullah comes here, sources said. Several senior officials of the rank of additional secretaries and joint secretaries in the MEA and MHA would be part of the composite team.

“The team’s main job would essentially be administrative and in the nature of tightening nuts and bolts in setting up our full-fledged embassy in Kabul and make it functional from December 22, the day when the interim government takes over in Afghanistan,” said a top-level source. “In all probability the team would go in the morning and return in the evening.”

A full-fledged Ambassador of India to Afghanistan would be named soon, the sources said. The Ambassador in all probability would be a joint secretary in the MEA. Mr S. K. Lambah, India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, will continue to function as his job is fairly important and sensitive. Back

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