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Pakistani clerics announce day of mourning

Pakistani clerics announce day of mourning

Publication: The Times of India - Internet Edition
Date: November 27, 2001
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1581700489

Islamabad: Pakistani clerics Monday deplored the deaths hundreds of foreign prisoners in northern Afghan city of -i-Sharif and announced a nationwide day of mourning against what they called the barbaric act of the U.S. and -Taliban forces.

"It makes no sense that people who have surrendered will revolt against their captors," Munawaar Hasan, general secretary of the Islamic fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami said.

"It is a lame excuse to justify the massacre of unarmed men. We will observe a black day on Friday to mourn the deaths of Pakistanis."

On Monday, fighting broke out again in the mud-walled fortress of Mazar-i-Sharif, where 300 to 700 pro-Taliban foreigners were reported killed in an uprising against their northern alliance captors a day earlier. Many prisoners are believed to be Pakistanis, Arabs and Chechens.

The Afghan Northern Alliance said prisoners' revolt was planned and they had smuggled weapons to execute what they called their suicide mission. U.S. planes had to bomb parts of the prison to quell the revolt.

Pakistan, a key ally of the coalition forces in war against terrorism, said that it is trying to find out the causes leading to the prisoners' killings.

"One is not clear what happened," Gen. Rashid Quereshi, the spokesman of Pakistan's military-led government said Monday. "But we want that the U.N. charter regarding the treatment of prisoners should be implemented," he said.

The United Nations, the coalition forces and the Red Cross should supervise prisoners' treatment, he said.

The foreigners were taken prisoners after the Taliban surrendered Kunduz. While Afghan Taliban were given amnesty, their Arab, Pakistani and Chechen allies, many believed to be be having links with Osama Bin Laden's shadowy al-Qaeda group were brought for investigations to Mazar-i-Sharif.

But Hasan said prisoners' killing was planned. "Today the United Nations and all the human rights groups are silent over the heinous crime because they are under the influence of America," he said.

Pakistani religious parties have vehemently opposed their government's decision to side with the United States in targeting the Taliban, who are protecting Bin Laden - the key suspect of September 11 terrorist strikes at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Hamid-ul Haq, a leader of Afghan Defense Council, an alliance of 35 Islamic groups, said that a meeting of clerics in northern city of Peshawar has condemned the killing.

The government has failed to represent the case of its nationals, he said. "The story of uprising is hard to believe. It is a lie. We are shocked at such a brutal killing," he said. (AP)

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