- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 7, 2002

Seized Afghans accused of plot
KABUL, Afghanistan Purported subversives arrested last week in a series of roundups in Kabul were hoping to destabilize the country but not take over the government as one Afghan official had reported, the Afghan foreign minister said yesterday.
Since Afghan authorities on Thursday reported 160 arrested in the suspected plot, "a few people have been released," said Foreign Minister Abdullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name.
Those still in custody are linked to a hard-line Islamic group, Hezb-e-Islami, headed by former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, officials said. A spokesman for that group denied it was connected with the plot.
Cuba backs Canadian convicted in U.S.

HAVANA President Fidel Castro's government expressed solidarity yesterday during a huge anti-U.S. rally with a Canadian convicted in the United States of violating Washington's trade embargo by selling water-purification chemicals to Cuba.
Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, addressing 140,000 Cubans on the outskirts of Havana, ridiculed the guilty verdict by a jury in the Philadelphia federal court on Wednesday against businessman James Sabzali, 42. The rally also included Mr. Castro and other senior members of the ruling Communist Party.
"They have found him guilty in the United States, put him on trial, for selling Cuba resins to purify the water which goes to our schools and homes, and now he could face a sentence of up to 205 years in prison," Mr. Perez said in a speech.

Congo 'Ninjas' take hostage
BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo Resurgent rebels in the Republic of Congo have taken a leading army general hostage, an army spokesman confirmed yesterday.
The general, Bouissa Matoko, was captured in the southern region of Pool last week, as the rebels, who call themselves "Ninja," began their renewed offensive there, spokesman Col. Jean Robert Obargui said.
Gen. Matoko had been on a private family visit to his home village "when he was surprised by a group of Ninja," Col. Obargui said.

Musharraf power bid draws fire at home
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan A plan by Pakistan's military ruler to use a referendum to stay in power drew fire yesterday from opponents at home and from international partners. A U.S. official suggested Pakistani courts should decide if the referendum is constitutional.
President Pervez Musharraf, a key U.S. ally in the anti-terrorism efforts, announced the vote on Friday and was due to open his referendum campaign effectively his election bid on Tuesday in Lahore.
The referendum would sidestep the constitution, which stipulates that the president must be elected by both houses of Parliament. Leaders of Pakistan's 15-party Alliance for Restoration of Democracy said they would meet today in Islamabad to discuss ways to challenge the referendum.
In London, the 54-nation Commonwealth, made up of Britain and former colonies, warned that the referendum plan falls short of promises made by Gen. Musharraf to return the country to democracy. The group suspended Pakistan after the 1999 coup.

Bin Laden aide defiant on capture
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Despite three gunshot wounds, a top Osama bin Laden lieutenant remained composed and defiant when he was taken into U.S. custody last week, medical staff who treated him said yesterday.
Abu Zubaydah, possibly the third-ranking figure in bin Laden's al Qaeda network, was shot in the stomach and leg during a joint U.S.-Pakistani raid on March 28 on a hide-out in the southern city of Faisalabad, doctors said by telephone on the condition of anonymity.
Rushed for treatment to the city's state-run Allied Hospital, Zubaydah remained "composed and confident," according to a doctor who treated him. His main concern was who took care of him, staff said.
"He said: 'I should not be touched by Americans,'" a nurse said.

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