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Wednesday, August 12, 1998

Pak involved in Taliban offensive - Russia

PRESS TRUST OF INDIA  
MOSCOW, Aug 11: Russia today accused Pakistan of directly participating in the Taliban military offensive in northern Afghanistan close to the borders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and warned that Moscow reserves the right to take any action to ensure the security of its allies in Central Asia.

A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Valery Nesterushkin accused Pakistan of planning the Taliban ``military expansion'' in the north of Afghanistan and directly participating in the Taliban military operations and taking care of their logistics.

``Russia views the escalation of Taliban military activities in the north of Afghanistan as a real threat to the southern frontiers of the CIS of which Russia is a member state and reserves the right to take all necessary measures for ensuring the reliable defence of its frontiers, including those which flow out of its international and legal obligation,'' he said.

``Concrete facts, including large number of Pakistani servicemen taken prisonersby the units of northern alliance provide this evidence,'' Nesterushkin stressed at the regular foreign ministry briefing.

The Russian foreign ministry statement was issued 24 hours after the Pakistani ambassador Mansoor Alam, in a press interview, categorically denied his country's military involvement in Afghanistan. ``Massive foreign military aid only encourages the aggressive designs of Taliban,'' he added.

Meanwhile, the United Nations today airlifted nine Iranian nationals including one diplomat from Afghanistan's central province of Bamiyan, fearing imminent Taliban assault. The Iranians, working in the consulate based in Bamiyan, a stronghold of pro-Iranian Shiite Hizb-e-Wahdat which is a component of the alliance fighting Talibans, were evacuated to Islamabad in a special UN plane.

Hekmatyar is dead, claims the militia

KABUL: The Taliban militia said today former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who was a leader of one of the factions opposing them, was killed in northernAfghanistan. The sources said Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was shot by three gunmen in the northern province of Takhar, an area held by the anti-Taliban alliance of which he was a leader. They had no further details and there was no independent confirmation. However Hekmatyar's son-in-law Ghaired Baheer said the report was ``baseless.'' ``I just spoke to him about five minutes ago, he's fine, he's energentic as always, Baheer said in Islamabad. Baheer, who represents his father-in-law's Hezb-e Islami party in Pakistan, said he spoke by telephone to Hekmatyar at an undisclosed location in northern Afghanistan.

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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