Attack on Afghan bases leaves 28 dead - Arabs, Pakistanis among victims


PESHAWAR - The Thursday's deadly cruise missiles attack by the United States on alleged terrorist bases of Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden in Khost, a bordering city in Afghanistan's Paktia province, left 28 people killed and 20 injured, some of them critically.

Conflicting reports were pouring in from across the border about the exact number of casualties. Afghan sources here, however, insisted that 28 people had perished in the lightning strikes Thursday night.

It was reported that most of the killed and injured persons were non-Afghans, including Pakistanis and Arabs.

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Pakistani authorities had announced early Friday that six Pakistani were also killed in the border city of Miranshah when one of the US missiles hit the city. However, a foreign office spokesman later retracted the statement and said the earlier statement was based on incorrect information. The spokesman said there were no casualties or damage on Pakistani territory from the US missile strikes.

Some of the injured were rushed to Miranshah, the agency headquarters of South Waziristan Agency, whereas seven wounded, including five Pakistanis and two unidentified nationals were brought to Peshawar.

The bodies of two of the Pakistani nationals, killed in Khost, were transported to their native town Lambi Dheri in Mansehra Friday night. They were later laid to rest at 10.30 PM. The Namaz-i-Janaza of the two, who were identified as Mohammad Hanif son of Ali and Mohammad Qasim son of Ayub, was attended by thousands of people, who raised anti-US slogans and gave them a hero's funeral. Their family sources said the two had joined the Khalid Bin Walid Wing of Taliban forces only a month ago.

Afghan sources in Peshawar said, the Saudi dissident Osama Bin Mohammad Bin Laden, branded by the US as major sponsor of international terrorism, survived the missiles strike and reportedly shifted to an undisclosed location, probably Kandahar.

The US cruise missiles, in a short span of 13 minutes, targeted four locations in Afghanistan, three in Paktia and one in Nangrahar province, on Thursday night at 10.30 PM (Afghanistan time), reported independent Afghan Sahaar news agency.

The agency said one of the missiles hit Toora Bora area, situated in the southwest of Jalalabad, causing no human or material losses.

The other three missiles targeted Al-Badr camp in Sedgay area, Salman Farsi camp and Zhawara, in Khost, Paktia province.

The most deadly attack was on Zhawara, where the missile hit an ammunition depot and severely damaged a mosque, where US intelligence agencies believed Osama was to attend a congregation. "Probably this was the reason that the Americans made the mosque target of their highly sophisticated, accurate and deadly missiles which have a range of 2,000 kilometers. The Al-Fatah camp, established by the Hizb-i-Islami (Hekmatyar), was later on renamed as Al-Badr camp, while the Salman Farsi and Zhawara camps were founded by commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and his colleagues. The Toora Bora camp, near Jalalabad, was ran by the chief of his own faction of Hizb-i-Islami Maulvi Younus Khalis.

HAJI MUJTABA adds from Miranshah: Six people were killed and 15 other injured on this side of Pak-Afghan border during the US missiles attacks at the hideouts of the Saudi dissident, Osama Bin Laden based in Afghanistan Friday.

Details regarding the destruction in Afghanistan could not be ascertained as the Pak-Afghan border was closed soon after the US missile attacks and nobody, including journalists, were allowed to enter the war torn-country.

Reports from the Afghan border town of Jawar, however, suggested that the US fired 25 missiles on the targets inside Afghanistan.

Those who died were identified as, Shafiq, Abdullah, Muhammad Hanif, Qasim and Abdur Rahim, while the injured included Naveed Akhtar, Waqas, Muhammad Khalid, Mir Baz Khan, Muhammad Hasan, Habibur Rehman and Yamir.

Soon after the Friday prayer, people of South Waziristan and Miranshah took out protest processions and condemned the US attack and closed the main bazaar. The shops at Tehsil Mir Ali and Tehsil Atta Khel were also closed down Friday to express solidarity with the affectees and condemn the attacks.

The processionists marched through various bazaars chanting full throat slogans against America, Russia and in favor of Taliban's supreme leader Mullahs Umar and Saudi millionaire Osama Bin Laden.

Later, they held a protest meeting at the General Bus Stand, which was addressed by Maulana Muhammad Deendar MNA, Maulana Jalaluddin Haqani, representatives of Taliban, Maulana Khair Muhammad, Maulana Noor Akhtar Khan, Maulana Ahmad Ullah, Maulana Naeemullah, Maulana Muhammad Roman and others.

Addressing the meeting, the speakers observed that since a true Islamic government had been established in Afghanistan, it was unacceptable to the Jews and Americans. The entire world had witnessed the hypocrisy of the US and Jews. They termed Osama Bin Laden as a true and real mujahid and due to this reason he had taken shelter in Afghanistan.

The representatives of Taliban who addressed the gathering said that Osama Bin Laden was their guest and termed the American attacks an open aggression against Afghanistan and Islam. They condemned the US for its attacks and vowed to protect Osama Bin Laden at every cost and no sacrifices would be denied to safeguard him.

Through a resolution, the meeting termed US the biggest enemy of Muslims and a terrorist in the world. They also asked the Americans to leave the Arab land and extended cooperation to Taliban for lasting peace in Afghanistan.

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