- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 21, 2002

U.S. troops escape Afghan rocket attack
BAGRAM, Afghanistan U.S. troops called in air strikes and fired mortars yesterday in response to a rocket attack near their special-operations base along the border with Pakistan. None of the troops was harmed.
In the southern city of Kandahar, two men draped in burkas the head-to-toe garments worn by many Afghan women fired shots and threw a grenade in a market packed with shoppers. Two Afghan soldiers were severely injured.
The violence underscored growing security concerns in Afghanistan. In recent months, gunmen have assassinated the vice president and another government minister. A powerful explosion in Kabul on Sept. 5 killed 30 persons. That same day there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai as he visited Kandahar.
The capital has also seen a series of small bombings, and authorities have seized explosives intended for other attacks.

Turkey bars key Muslim from elections
ANKARA, Turkey Turkey's most popular politician, the leader of an Islamic-oriented party, was barred yesterday from running in the elections in November, the Anatolia news agency reported.
The High Electoral Board ruled that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of the Justice and Development Party, cannot run Nov. 3 because he was convicted of reading a poem that the court said incited religious hatred. Turkish laws disqualify candidates with criminal records from running for office.
Also barred from running were former pro-Islamic Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan; the leader of the country's pro-Kurdish party, Murat Bozlak; and the most prominent Turkish human rights activist, Akin Birdal.

AIDS activist freed after weeks' detention
BEIJING China said yesterday that it had released one of the country's most prominent AIDS activists from weeks in detention after he confessed to leaking state secrets.
State security in Beijing released Wan Yanhai after he confessed to breaking the law and agreed to help in the investigation, the official Xinhua news agency quoted a government spokesman as saying.
Mr. Wan had run an AIDS counseling project called Aizhi Action at a private management university in Beijing, but the school ordered it closed in July under what workers at the center said was government pressure.

Falun Gong backers get prison terms
BEIJING Fifteen Falun Gong sympathizers were sentenced yesterday to as long as 20 years in prison for hacking into a cable-television system to show protest videos in two Chinese cities, a court official and government media said.
The incident March 5 marked the start of a campaign by Falun Gong supporters, who have commandeered TV signals in at least four areas to show videos opposing China's 3-year-old crackdown on the banned spiritual movement.
The defendants were convicted in the northeastern city of Changchun of violating "anti-cult" laws and damaging broadcast equipment, said an official of the Changchun Intermediate-Level People's Court.

Pakistan denies plot on Musharraf's life
ISLAMABAD Pakistan denied yesterday that there was any evidence of a plot to kill President Pervez Musharraf this week, despite a U.S. government statement to that effect.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had told a joint hearing of the Senate and House intelligence committees Thursday that Pakistani authorities had foiled a plot to bomb Gen. Musharraf while he was visiting Karachi.
But Information Minister Nisar Memon told a news conference that this was not correct.
"We did not find enough evidence to say that it was a plot," he said. "We do not have any indication to confirm this."


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