- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2001

From combined dispatches
JACOBABAD, Pakistan Police locked down a southern city yesterday after Islamic militants vowed to marshal thousands of supporters to storm an air base that is providing support to U.S. military personnel.
More than 100 people had been arrested by midmorning after a protest inside Jacobabad, site of Shahbaz Air Base.
Blockades and sandbag bunkers were erected around the city, most shops were closed and many streets were deserted except for heavily armed patrols of police, army and paramilitary troops.
Islamic militants summoned by Jamaat-e-Islam want to expel U.S. personnel supporting the U.S.-led military campaign designed to root out terrorist installations in Afghanistan belonging to Osama bin Laden, top suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States.
Roads to the city have been blocked for days to prevent mass entry. But yesterday morning, about 200 militant Muslims appeared inside the city, chanting anti-government slogans. Police rushed them with batons, ordering them to disperse. Police said at least 100 protesters have been arrested since Sunday.
Despite the demonstrations, Pakistani President Perez Musharraf said on government television on Monday night that a "vast" majority of Pakistanis back his handling of the crisis.
Over the weekend, two U.S. helicopters came under fire in Pakistan as their crews attempted to retrieve the wreckage of another helicopter that had crashed during a covert weekend commando raid, the Pentagon said yesterday.
The retrieval crews on Saturday were transporting a Black Hawk helicopter that had crashed, killing two Rangers the night before when more than 100 special force soldiers raided an airfield and a Taliban compound in southern Afghanistan.
After loading the helicopter from the crash site, the recovery team stopped to refuel at an airfield, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said at a news conference with Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem.
"While there, they took hostile fire, aborted the refueling, returned fire and departed," Mrs. Clarke said.
"We don't know who was firing on our forces," said Adm. Stufflebeem, referring to the shooting as small-arms fire.
It was the most hostile act reported so far against Americans in Pakistan.
In Kabul, the Afghan capital, a U.S. air strike yesterday killed at least 35 members of a Pakistani group listed by Washington as a terrorist organization, sources close to the group said.
The 35 were members of the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, which fights against Indian rule in Kashmir and has long been believed to send its guerrillas into Afghanistan.
Also in Kabul, Afghanistan's Supreme Court said it cannot hold regular sessions in the trial of eight foreign aid workers accused of promoting Christianity due to chaos amid the U.S. air strikes, their lawyer said yesterday.
The court was unable to give a date for the next session in the trial but had allowed the eight to make phone calls to their families, Pakistani lawyer Atif Ali Khan said.
In northern Afghanistan, Northern Alliance forces said they were locked in fierce fighting with militia of the ruling Taliban for the key northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum said yesterday.
"Our forces launched an attack yesterday and the fighting has been fierce," the rebel leader said by satellite telephone from near the front line.
Taliban Education Minister and senior spokesman Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi said the opposition had tried to push forward but had been repulsed.
Meanwhile, Pakistan said yesterday it was shipping some illegal Afghan refugees back across the border to tent villages being set up by the Taliban just inside Afghanistan, the Pakistani government said yesterday.
One of the camps inside Afghanistan will be built in Spinboldak, about 15 miles from the border, the official said. A second will be set up about two miles from the border.

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