Thursday, December 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India




THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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Tora Bora caves bombed

Tora Bora , December 12
US B-52 jets today staged a series of attacks on Al-Qaida caves in the Tora Bora mountains of eastern Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden’s fighters failed to surrender.

One B-52 carried out two raids about 50 minutes after an 8 a.m. (9 a.m. IST) deadline for hardline followers of Bin Laden to come out of the mountain caves and positions. More raids were carried out around midday.

The first giant jet circled over the mountains before dropping two large bombs in a zone further south, closer to the Pakistan border than districts that have been targeted in air raids up to now.

It was not immediately known if the attacks directly targeted the Bin Laden fighters who did not surrender.

“The Al-Qaida fighters had agreed to surrender today but we have received no report to this effect so far,” a spokesman for Afghan militia commander Hazrat Ali told AFP one hour after the deadline passed.

The spokesman said if they did not give up the fighters would be killed. A spokesman for US-backed Afghan commander Haji Hazrat Ali said negotiations were going on with Al-Qaida leaders, who had set conditions for giving up.

Spokesman Amin said they were insisting on surrendering only to United Nations officials in the presence of diplomats from Saudi Arabia and other countries.

“Haji Hazrat Ali told us 10 minutes ago that they have said they will not surrender before him or commander Haji Zaman. The commanders are holding a meeting to decide the next step,” Amin said.

Haji Mohammad Zaman, one of the Afghan, commanders, who had announced the surrender deal, refused to talk to journalists today.

It is not clear whether Bin Laden himself is in the Tora Bora region, although US officials said yesterday there were “indications” he was there.

Estimates of the numbers of Bin Laden disciples in the White Mountains range from several hundred to more than 1,000.

Pentagon officials said yesterday they had seen no signs that a surrender was imminent and vowed to press on with their assault. AFPBack

 

Pak scientists admit links with Al-Qaida

Washington, December 12
Two prominent Pakistani nuclear scientists, under detention for their alleged links with the Al-Qaida, have confessed to having discussions with Osama bin Laden on ‘‘nuclear, chemical and biological weapons’’ in Kabul in August this year.

Mr Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Mr Abdul Majid used an Afghan relief organisation — Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (Islamic reconstruction) — as a cover to conduct secret talks with the terrorist mastermind, reports the Washington Post, quoting Pakistani officials.

The two scientists also met Bin Laden’s top lieutenant, Egyptian Ayman Zawahiri and other Al-Qaida officials several times over two or three days in August.

However, Mr Mahmood and Mr Majid claimed that they did not provide any material or specific plans to Bin Laden and only engaged in ‘‘academic’’ discussions, Pakistani officials said.

Following the sensational revelations that will have far-reaching impact on international campaign against terrorism, the Pakistan Government is considering chargeing the duo with violating the National Secrets Act, a crime that carries a seven-year jail term. The involvement of the two scientists with the terrorist network figured prominently in discussions between CIA Director George J. Tenets and the Pakistani authorities during his recent visit to Islamabad.

The Pakistani authorities said Mr Mahmood and Mr Majid changed their accounts recently after they were presented with compelling evidence of their relationship with Bin Laden. The evidence was provided to the authorities here by the CIA, but Pakistani intelligence officials declined to give details.

Mr Mahmood told investigators that he met several times with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar during a long visit to Kandahar in mid-summer. UNIBack

 

Pak N-plan worries India
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
India today again voiced concern over Pakistan’s nuclear programme saying that its “certain aspects” were of clandestine nature.

In response to a question about the ongoing controversy of two Pakistani nuclear scientists getting sanctuary in Myanmar on Islamabad’s request, a spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs told reporters today that Pakistan’s nuclear programme had “intricate web of contacts with the Taliban regime”.

She said India was in favour of a proper investigation in this regard.

The two Pakistani scientists were sent to Myanmar to save them from the hawkish eyes of the Americans as they had hobnobbed with the Taliban and Al-Qaida network.Back

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