INDEPENDENT NEWS

Afghanistan Citizens Fear US/Nato Strikes

Published: Fri 14 Sep 2001 10:36 AM
Compiled by Selwyn Manning
The Afghan News Channel is reporting widespread fear among Afghanistan's civilians as they prepare for likely retaliatory strikes on their country for the terrorist attacks against the USA this week.
The United States last night [New Zealand time] vowed a "hammer of vengeance" against those responsible for this week's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC.
The US also said any country which aided the those responsible for the attacks on the USA would be at war with the United States. NATO also yesterday passed a resolution that any act of terrorism on the USA is an attack on NATO.
The Taliban that is in control of Kabul has been swift to deny responsibility.
But US investigators are increasingly convinced Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden is behind the attacks. The Taliban has given bin Laden refuge in Afghanistan but states he is unable to access any communications and is unable to have the means to orchestrate such an attack.
Many Afghans, however, fear it is just a matter of time before they are made to pay for the ruling Taliban giving him sanctuary, the Afghan News Channel reports.
Neighboring Pakistan, which is one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban, last night offered "full cooperation" to the USA as it attempts to track down the perpetrators.
The Afghan News Channel states: "Significantly, Pakistan's then-government refused the U.S. permission to overfly its airspace in 1998 as Washington sought revenge for deadly bomb attacks on its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania for which bin Laden was also blamed."
It reports: "While it was not immediately clear how many Arab nationals live in Afghanistan, residents said almost all had left central Kabul. Afghan-Arabs,a term encompassing virtually all non-Afghan Muslim militants regardless of their origin, were also reported to have evacuated their bases elsewhere in the country.
The USA has previously described Afghanistan as a "school for terrorism". Muslim militants from the Middle East, Philippines, Central Asia and China have long used Afghanistan as a training base for their respective causes.
Selwyn Manning - Scoop Auckland
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