Sunday, December 16, 2001, Chandigarh, India


W O R L D

Israeli troops kill two Palestinians
Curfew imposed in Gaza town; 3 of Hamas group held

Gaza, December 15
Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man trying to infiltrate a Jewish settlement in the southern Gaza Strip and killed a Palestinian policeman in northern Gaza early in the day. An army spokeswoman said the alleged infiltrator may have been on a suicide mission but there was no immediate confirmation that he was carrying explosives.
An Israel tank enters the Palestinian-ruled town of Beit Hanoun and proceeds towards the Jabalya refugee camp in the north of the Gaza Strip on Saturday.
An Israel tank enters the Palestinian-ruled town of Beit Hanoun and proceeds towards the Jabalya refugee camp in the north of the Gaza Strip on Saturday. — Reuters photo



A partial eclipse of the sun is shown in a composite sequence of photographs taken on Friday. in Spring, Texas. AP/PTI




National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Palestine slams US veto of UN draft
Jerusalem, December 15
Israel welcomed, but the Palestinians condemned, a US veto today that killed a UN resolution urging international monitors in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


Anti-Taliban fighters aided by US forces have made significant gains advancing onto Al-Qaeda positions in Tora Bora mountains.

(28k, 56k)

Afghans bay for Pak blood
Sahr-e-Nao (Kabul), December 15
The Pakistanis enjoyed the patronage of the Taliban as long as the militia was in power. But now that the fundamentalist regime has crumbled, the Pakistanis have fled and the Afghans are baying for their blood.

Bollywood rules in Kabul
Kabul, December 15
Bollywood has returned in a blaze of colour and sound to Afghanistan, to the relief of Indian film-makers who for the five years of harsh Taliban rule lost an important market.

Sikhs want Indian school in Kabul
Kabul, December 15
For the 500 Sikh families in Afghanistan nothing is dearer than their link with their ancestral land because what they immediately want amidst miles of destruction is an Indian school which had shut with the assassination of former Afghan President Najibullah, who held power before the entry of the dreaded Taliban.

EARLIER STORIES

 

Osama linked to sale of gem
New York, December 15
Osama bin Laden may have raked in vast amounts of money for his terrorist network from the sale of a gem in the USA, investigators have said.
Top






 

Israeli troops kill two Palestinians
Curfew imposed in Gaza town; 3 of Hamas group held

Masked Palestinian gunmen take up their position
Masked Palestinian gunmen take up their position in a gunfight with Israeli troops during an attack on the Palestinian-ruled town of Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Gaza, December 15
Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man trying to infiltrate a Jewish settlement in the southern Gaza Strip and killed a Palestinian policeman in northern Gaza early in the day.

An army spokeswoman said the alleged infiltrator may have been on a suicide mission but there was no immediate confirmation that he was carrying explosives.

“The terrorist cut the fence and was trying to penetrate the area (at the Gush Katif settlement bloc),” the army said in a statement. “The force fired at the terrorist and killed him... He was wearing a vest and probably an explosive belt.”

Palestinians witnesses identified the man as 17-year-old Bilal Hassuna.

In northern Gaza, Palestinian officials said Ahmed al Bassuni, 28, died and four other Palestinian policemen were wounded in the latest round of violence that has largely derailed a US peace mission led by envoy Anthony Zinni.

A Palestinian public security spokesman said the policemen were riding in a jeep in the Palestinian-ruled town of Beit Hanoun to prevent Palestinian militants from continuing mortar fire when they came under Israeli fire early in the day.

The army said it had returned fire in response to shooting from the area.

Palestinian officials said shortly after the attack on the jeep, more than 20 tanks rolled into the centre of the town and took up positions as soldiers with loudspeakers ordered residents to stay in their homes. (According to an AFP report, it is the first time Israel has imposed a curfew in a Gaza town since the Palestinian Authority was created in 1994).

The officials said the troops demolished three Palestinian security positions in the town and arrested at least three militants from the Hamas group that has been behind attacks that have killed scores of Israelis.

Palestinian hospital officials said at least 30 persons were wounded by Israeli tank shells and gunfire as a fierce battle raged between Palestinian gunmen and Israelis in the town.

UNITED NATIONS: The USA on Saturday vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution that it said ignored the recent spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis, exercising its veto power for only the second time in over four years.

“It is with regret that the USA has decided to make use of its veto to block this resolution,” said US Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte during the meeting of the Security Council.

Twelve members of the Security Council voted in favour of the resolution, with two abstentions by the UK and Norway.

The resolution, co-sponsored by Tunisia and Egypt, condemns “all acts of terror, in particular those targeting civilians,” and “all acts of extrajudiciary executions, excessive use of force and wide destruction of properties.” Reuters, AFP

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Palestine slams US veto of UN draft

Jerusalem, December 15
Israel welcomed, but the Palestinians condemned, a US veto today that killed a UN resolution urging international monitors in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The USA used its veto power for the second time this year to dismiss the proposal in the UN Security Council on grounds that it was biased against Israel and would not help promote the peace process shattered by 15 months of deadly clashes.

The vote in the 15-member UN council was 12 to 1 with Britain and Norway abstaining. The other two European Union members, France and Ireland, were among the “yes” votes.

The Palestinian Authority “strongly condemned” the US veto of the draft and said it feared a deterioration in the region.

“The American position will not be useful to the peace process and establishing quiet in the region,” Mr Nabil Abu Rdainah, adviser to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, told Reuters.

Mr Raanan Gissin, adviser to Israeli Prime Ariel Sharon, praised the stand taken by the USA.

“The United States is honest and follows its own policy announcement that you can’t on the one hand support terrorist activity instigated by the Palestinian Authority and at the same time fight against terror in Afghanistan,” he said.

“Monitors have never stopped terror activities. They have only complicated the situation,” Mr Gissin said.

The draft resolution warned of a dangerous deterioration in the region and called for an immediate halt to violence. It encouraged “all concerned to establish a monitoring mechanism” to help ease conditions in the West Bank and Gaza.

US Ambassador John Negroponte told the council in a lengthy debate the resolution aimed was to “isolate politically one of the parties to the conflict through an attempt to throw the weight of the council behind the other party”.

The resolution condemned all terrorist acts, particularly against civilians, as well as executions without trial, excessive use of force and wide destruction of property.

But Negroponte said it was fundamentally flawed because it did not even mention “recent acts of terrorism” against Israelis or those responsible for them.

The resolution also sought to bolster Mr Arafat days after Israel severed ties with him and branded him “irrelevant” in response to the spate of attacks on Israelis this month.

In March, the USA vetoed a similar resolution that called for an observer force which Israel opposes.

At least 777 Palestinians and 233 Israelis have been killed since the uprising against Israeli occupation flared in September last year after US-mediated peace efforts collapsed. Reuters
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Afghans bay for Pak blood

Sahr-e-Nao (Kabul), December 15
The Pakistanis enjoyed the patronage of the Taliban as long as the militia was in power. But now that the fundamentalist regime has crumbled, the Pakistanis have fled and the Afghans are baying for their blood.

“Taliban was sold to the ISI. The people saw their activities and now want to punish them,” said Intelligence Chief General Isamuddin.

“The ISI was the nerve centre of the Taliban,” he added.

But it is on the streets of Kabul that the hatred for Pakistanis comes to the fore.

One Indian was accosted by a group of people who sought his identity. The conversation went something like this: “Are you an Indian or a Pakistani?”

Taking offence to the manner in which he was questioned, the Indian retorted, “Why”?

The crowd answered in unison, “We want to know which Pakistani can walk on the streets of Kabul so freely”. The Indian, who immediately disclosed his nationality, was saved by the proverbial whisker.

There is another instance, which clearly demonstrates the Afghans deep-rooted hatred for Pakistanis.

Indira Gandhi Hospital here is limping back to normalcy with generous help from India. New Delhi has sent a team of six doctors along with nearly six tonnes of medicine. But what is urgently required is equipment.

The locals working in the hospital, meanwhile, are as keen that India send the equipment fast. Reason: the hospital is still using equipment given by Pakistanis.

“Please bring your equipment fast and we will smash the Pakistani equipment. We do not want to use these. The Pakistanis ruined this country,” says one of the Afghan doctors at the hospital. Local interpreters here urge Indian journalists not to wear the traditional “pakul” caps.

“You are Indians, but look quite similar to Pakistanis. The moment you wear the “pakul” caps, you will be mistaken for Pakistanis by the locals”, they say.

The Intelligence Chief laughs at these instances and says it is but natural for the locals to be hostile towards Pakistanis, who controlled the Taliban. PTI

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Bollywood rules in Kabul

Kabul, December 15
Bollywood has returned in a blaze of colour and sound to Afghanistan, to the relief of Indian film-makers who for the five years of harsh Taliban rule lost an important market.

Within days of the Taliban fleeing Kabul before advancing Northern Alliance forces on the night of November 12, trucks began shuttling in from neighbouring Pakistan carrying television sets, video players and the latest videos and DVDs from India.

“Seventy per cent of my stock is from India, the rest from the USA and Japan,” said Zamin Begana, owner of one of about 15 new video shops which have sprung up in a once-deserted building in downtown Kabul.

Like his neighbours, Begana’s shop is crowded each day with customers jostling for their favourite titles which cost about $ 2 each.

The popularity of Bollywood stars such as Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan survived the Taliban and were still the favourites of most Afghans, although youths preferred to test newer titles, Begana said.

Despite the critical economic conditions in Afghanistan brought about by 23 years of war and a devastating drought, Begana manages to sell 70 to 80 videos a day, along with many DVDs and three or four expensive video machines. “Many Afghans have left the country and are working in Europe, sending money back to their families each month. That is how they can afford to buy video machines,” he explained.

Those for whom a video machine is a faraway luxury have the option to attend one of the three cinemas which have opened since the end of what Kabulis refer to as the “dark days” of the Taliban.

In a noisy hall watching a grainy movie on an ancient screen, Afghans can indulge their passion for Hindi movies for as little as 3,500 Afghanis (12 US cents).

The favourite film right now at the Bakhtar movie house is “Mohara”, drawing audiences of 300 to 400 at each day’s four screenings.

Owner Abdul Rahim, who said he spent the Taliban years “baking cookies”, told AFP that Indian movies were by far the most sought after. AFP
Top

 

Sikhs want Indian school in Kabul

Kabul, December 15
For the 500 Sikh families in Afghanistan nothing is dearer than their link with their ancestral land because what they immediately want amidst miles of destruction is an Indian school which had shut with the assassination of former Afghan President Najibullah, who held power before the entry of the dreaded Taliban.

“Help us” a delegation of Sikhs pleaded with India’s special envoy S.K. Lambah, who was here yesterday for a brief visit to meet two key ministers in the interim government — Abdullah Abdullah and Faahim Khan.

On being asked by Mr Lambah in what way would the Sikhs like the Indian Government to help them, the community, which was narrating the difficult circumstances it was living in, asked for the reopening of the Indian school which had closed after the death of Najibullah.

They were told by the special envoy that the government’s first priority was to open its Embassy here and it would later open the Indian school.

The Sikh community also wanted the Indian Government to put in a word with the new Afghan Government to look after minorities.

Mr Lambah said Afghan leaders had committed during the Bonn talks that they would make all ethnic groups feel secure. PTI

Top

 

Osama linked to sale of gem

New York, December 15
Osama bin Laden may have raked in vast amounts of money for his terrorist network from the sale of a gem in the USA, investigators have said.

Americans buy about $ 300 million worth of tanzanite, a blue gem mined in Tanzania, every year, making it the most popular coloured stone after the sapphire.

“There is no question that there is a connection to terrorism. There is a connection between tanzanite and Al-Qaida, bin Laden’s terror network,” an investigator said.

Investigators in the FBI and CIA trying to track bin Laden’s money for several years now said the terror suspect’s associates had been buying up tanzanite. PTI

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