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Afghanistan: First German Peacekeepers Arrive

Kabul, 11 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The first contingent of peacekeeping troops from Germany and the Netherlands arrived at Bagram air base near Kabul today to reinforce Afghanistan's multinational security force. A British spokesman for the UN-mandated force, which will be led by Britain for three months, said two C-130 aircrafts arrived with the mostly German logistics team. He said the team will prepare the joint German-Dutch headquarters in the Afghan capital Kabul.

The spokesman was not certain when the full contingent of about 70 German soldiers and 30 Dutch troops will arrive in Afghanistan. The troops were delayed yesterday due to heavy snow at the Turkish air base at Trabzon.

The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan is expected to consist of about 4,500 troops from mainly European countries.

A first group of 20 Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners captured in the U.S.-led antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan were on their way today to a U.S. naval base on Cuban territory. The United States says it is transferring the detainees to Guantanamo Bay base for questioning and possible trial for terrorist-related activities.

In other news, Afghanistan's new chief judge, Fazal Hadi Shinwari, says justice will continue to be dispensed in the country according to Islamic laws.

The Afghan Islamic Press agency today quotes Shinwari as saying Hamid Karzai, head of the new interim government, told him "Afghanistan's Islamic image in the world must be maintained."

Shinwari told the agency that religious scholars and others who served under the Taliban have been granted amnesty and will not be tried unless they have been charged with murder or treason.