- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

India says Taliban recalling fighters

NEW DELHI Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh says there are signs that Kabul has asked militants fighting in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to return to Afghanistan to stand up to any U.S. attack.

Mr. Singh told a news conference that the call had come from Mullah Mohammed Omar, spiritual leader of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.

"It is our information based on the intelligence resources of India that Mullah Omar has issued an appeal that all the terrorists that are currently in Jammu and Kashmir should quickly move towards Afghanistan to stand up against what is apprehended," Mr. Singh said.

Indian police say that about half the militants in the 12-year-old insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, are from Pakistan and Afghanistan. It has accused Pakistan of fueling the insurgency, a charge Islamabad denies.


Australia dumps refugees on Nauru

BOE, Nauru Barefoot and weary, another group of asylum seekers stepped onto the tiny Pacific island republic of Nauru two days ago after three weeks aboard an Australian navy ship.

Two navy landing craft carried 119 Afghans and Sri Lankans into Nauru's harbor as hundreds of islanders looked on. They followed an initial group of 100 refugees transferred from the HMAS Manoora on Wednesday.

The refugees were among the 433 mostly Afghan asylum seekers rescued from a sinking Indonesian ferry by a Norwegian cargo ship near the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island late last month. Another group of 230 Iraqi and Palestinian refugees was picked up from Australian waters on Sept. 7 and transferred to the Manoora.


Buddhist stamp way out of date

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka Red-faced postal authorities have ordered an inquiry after a printing error left an important Buddhist commemorative stamp 4,545 years out of date.

The stamp, issued this week in honor of one of the country's premier Buddhist societies, was dated 2544 BC, meaning "before Christ," instead of BE, for "Buddhist era," which would have signified the current year of the Buddhist calendar.


Weekly notes

The Sri Lankan government and separatist Tamil guerrillas have agreed to two brief cease-fires to allow children in the northeastern war zone to be vaccinated against polio, state media reported. "Days of tranquility" were to be observed yesterday and today in response to a request by the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF. An International Labor Organization team investigating the Burmese military junta's efforts to eradicate forced labor has met with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and been given access to every minister concerned, ILO sources report. The ILO team, and seven experts accompanying it on the three-week mission, had a working lunch with Mrs. Suu Kyi on Wednesday, an official source said.

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