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Pakistan: Radical Islamic Party Leaders Arrested

Islamabad, 9 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Pakistani authorities have detained three pro-Taliban Islamic party leaders after violent protests yesterday in Pakistan against U.S.-led attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan. Police said Fazlur Rehman, a leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) party was detained for the second time since Saturday, when he was held for one day and released. Another JUI leader, Samiul Haq was placed under house arrest. Police detained also Azam Tariq, head of a Sunni extremist group.

All three are members of the Council for Defense of Afghanistan, formed earlier this year to support the Taliban after new UN Security Council sanctions were imposed.

A senior Islamic cleric said today he had issued a decree calling on all Muslims to fight jihad, or holy struggle, against the forces attacking Afghanistan. Mufti Nazimuddin Shamzai last month led a delegation of Pakistani clerics to Afghanistan but failed to convince the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden.

Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman said U.S. daylight air raids today on the Afghan city of Kandahar were repelled by Taliban anti-aircraft guns.

Spokesman Mullah Abdul Hayee Motmaen told the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) that U.S. planes today came on three occasions for daylight attacks but Taliban anti-aircraft guns forced them back.

The U.S. did not immediately confirm that the aircraft taking part in today's strike on Kandahar were part of its coalition.

Kandahar is the headquarters of the Taliban militia leadership. U.S. air forces raided the city twice last night.

Motmaen said that missiles and bombs hit the Kandahar airport and the area around it but he could not give an estimate of the damages.

AIP said the Afghan capital Kabul was also bombed this morning. Unconfirmed reports say four people were killed in the raid on Kabul.

The U.S. Defense Department said the strikes which began last night struck an undisclosed number of targets. The targets included early warning radars, Taliban ground forces, and military command sites.

Reports from Kabul say four security guards were killed overnight at the offices of a UN-funded demining agency when a cruise missile struck the building as part of a U.S.-led air strike.

The missile struck the office of the Afghan Technical Consultancy in the eastern part of Kabul. An employee of the group, Mohammad Shafiq, told reporters today that the agency had halted its work since foreign deminers and UN international staff left Afghanistan following the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States.

The Afghan Technical Consultancy is one of dozens of agencies working to remove landmines across Afghanistan.

Pakistani police clashed again today with anti-U.S. protesters in the city of Quetta near the Afghan border.

Pakistani officials said that some 100 people tried to enter the city, but were blocked by police. The protesters torched a police station before being dispersed.

At least one person was killed yesterday in Quetta during anti-U.S. riots.

In Indonesia, the world most populous Muslim country, police fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse some 400 protesters gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. The group had earlier rallied outside the UN building in Jakarta.

In the Philippines, several thousand Muslims staged a march in the southern Marawi City. Muslim protests were also announced in the capital Manilla.

In Oman, some 200 students staged anti-U.S. protests for a second day in the capital Muscat.