- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2001

From combined dispatches
MULTAN, Pakistan Twelve suspected Islamic militants were detained yesterday for questioning in a weekend shooting at a Christian church that killed 16 persons.
Police superintendent Arif Ikram of Behawalpur, the south-central Pakistani town where the shootings took place, said the 12 were detained during "several" raids in different areas of Punjab province. He said none of them had been charged by yesterday evening.
Mr. Ikram would not identify the men or the three militant Islamic groups to which authorities believed they belonged, but authorities expressed confidence they were on the right track.
"We have reached out for the necks of the culprits," said Ijaz Shah, the home secretary of Punjab province. "They will soon be behind bars."
The gunmen burst into St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church on Sunday during Protestant services of the Church of Pakistan, spraying the congregation with gunfire. Sixteen persons were killed, including the minister and a Muslim police officer guarding the church outside.
The Church of Pakistan, was founded in 1970. It brings together Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and other Protestants. Though St. Dominic's is a Catholic church, Church of Pakistan members also hold services there every Sunday and have something of a sister-congregation relationship with the parish.
Pope John Paul II, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and the State Department all have condemned the attacks. Several prominent U.S. Muslim groups yesterday also expressed their "deepest sorrow" at the brutal killings.
Pakistan is 97 percent Muslim. Christians constitute a small portion of the remaining 3 percent.
In Afghanistan, the opposition Northern Alliance deployed hundreds of skilled troops near Taliban lines north of Kabul, the first tangible sign of preparations for an assault on the capital.
Abdul Rahman, an opposition brigade commander, said yesterday that he was told 10 days ago to prepare for an attack on Kabul and "now we are ready." He said he did not know when the attack would begin.
Northern Alliance officials said that it planned to begin operations soon against Mazar-e-Sharif, suggesting the attack would come ahead of Ramadan.
U.S. jets pounded Taliban positions around Mazar-e-Sharif yesterday, in strikes that an opposition spokesman called relentless.
Witnesses also said they saw a U.S. plane drop a bomb yesterday at the Bagram front lines, about 25 miles north of Kabul, creating a mushroom cloud that billowed at least 1,000 feet into the air. Witnesses called it the biggest bomb to hit the area in 10 days of American bombardments on the front lines.
Despite the U.S. aerial attacks, the opposition alliance has made no significant advances against the ruling militia. The opposition has complained the U.S. strikes were not intense enough.
In northern Pakistan, hundreds of Muslim clerics ended a traditional tribal meeting late yesterday by ordering their followers to surrender control of the Silk Road after a six-day blockade.
They also issued a list of demands including imposition of Islamic rule in Pakistan and an end to the U.S. air strikes on Afghanistan and Pakistan's backing of the campaign.
Meanwhile, in Islamabad, the U.N. envoy for Afghanistan met with the Pakistani president in an effort to insure a post-conflict government would represent all Afghan ethnic groups and have the resources to keep civilians fed and warm.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the special envoy of the U.N. secretary-general, talked with Gen. Musharraf, who reaffirmed his support for a central role for the United Nations, U.N. spokesman Eric Falt said.
Gen. Musharraf and Mr. Brahimi agreed that Afghanistan's boundaries must remain intact, Mr. Falt said.
Mr. Brahimi arrived in Pakistan on Sunday for a weeklong stay.
Aziz Ahmed Khan, a spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, said again yesterday Islamabad wants a political solution to come from within Afghanistan.
Gen. Musharraf said Afghanistan's rehabilitation must be quick especially agriculture and building infrastructure to encourage the return of the more than 2 million refugees who have fled since the most recent conflict began.
Pakistan rejected the U.N. proposal to open is borders to more Afghan refugees.
More than 3 million Afghan refugees already live in Pakistan.

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