- The Washington Times - Monday, October 15, 2001

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Pakistani police killed one man and injured at least 12 when they fired on a mob attempting to storm an air base for U.S. forces in protest of air strikes on Afghanistan, which continued for an eighth day yesterday.
Thousands of protesters in the southern city of Jacobabad threw rocks at police while trying to evade a security cordon, and police responded with tear gas and by firing over the heads of the demonstrators.
Two were seriously hurt, one of whom was in a coma, according to reports from the scene. The clash was the latest in a series of anti-U.S. protests over the U.S. air strikes, which yesterday hit the Afghan capital and other targets across the country.
More protests are expected throughout Pakistan today as a visit by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell coincides with the celebration of a major festival beginning the one-month countdown to the holy month of Ramadan.
"He is coming from the god of this world on the day that the Prophet Mohammed went to meet the real God," said Dr. Mohammed Iqbal Khalil, the deputy mayor of Peshawar.
The piety of Afghans and their ethnic cousins in Peshawar and along the rugged border with Pakistan is legendary. In the middle of an interview, Dr. Khalil excused himself to go into a hall to say his afternoon prayers.
Twenty minutes later, he returned and picked up where he had left off. Worried about reports of civilian deaths from the U.S. air strikes nearby, Dr. Khalil said: "If there are more casualties, the people will react and it will be difficult to control them."
Mr. Powell's visit is expected to be brief and is to include a stop in India. President Pervez Musharraf is expected to urge the United States to quickly complete its air campaign because of public fallout here and throughout the Muslim world.
The two are also expected to discuss efforts to form a broad-based coalition representing Afghanistan's ethnic mix that would replace the ruling Taliban government.
Last night, the United States continued pounding Afghanistan, with reports of three bombs hitting a military installation north of Kabul.
Sites near Heart, Jalalabad and the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar were also attacked as part of a continuing campaign to force the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 suicide attacks on Washington and New York.
Evidence of dissent surfaced within Afghanistan, with a senior Taliban official admitting that one commander had defected along with 150 soldiers to the opposition Northern Alliance.
Taliban intelligence chief Qari Ahmad Ullah made the admission during a statement offering amnesty to members of the alliance who change sides to battle the United States.
"We have received orders from our leaders that whosoever comes to us to fight against the U.S., we should not take his weapon. In fact, we will allow him to fight against the U.S. with his weapon," Mr. Ullah said in a statement carried by the Afghan Islamic Press, a private news agency based in Pakistan.
The alliance, which controls about 10 percent of Afghanistan, has thus far reported little progress in a campaign to dislodge Taliban troops in frontline positions, despite the U.S. bombing of key military targets.
Separately, the Taliban's No. 2 leader, Mullah Maulvi Abdul Kabir, offered to negotiate with the United States on turning over bin Laden for trial in a neutral third country, provided Washington gives proof of bin Laden's involvement in attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon.
President Bush dismissed the offer saying the United States was not prepared to negotiate, as it has reacted to similar overtures.
Taliban officials also escorted a small number of Western reporters to the mountain village of Khorum near the Pakistani border, which it says was destroyed in a bombing raid last week. Reporters saw a village of mud homes in ruins with people weeping over freshly dug graves. Armed Taliban escorts separated the reporters from an angry crowd on hand for their arrival.
In Peshawar, schools and many offices were to remain closed today, as they have since the onset of U.S. air strikes Oct. 7.
The main fear of Pakistani officials is that public anger will grow as civilian casualties in Afghanistan rise.
"The more you hurt civilians, the more you make enemies," said Dr. Khalil, who was a practicing physician until he won the deputy mayor's post in an election two months ago.
Pakistan's border areas are populated by the same Pashtun ethnic group that dominates Afghanistan in Kabul and throughout the south, and public sentiment here is especially strong against the air strikes.
The Taliban claims more than 300 civilians have died in the raids, including the son of its leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, with more than 200 of the deaths in the village visited by reporters.
Opponents warn that the Taliban is most likely exaggerating the death toll in a growing battle with the West for public opinion.


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