IPS

KARIMOV WARNS THE TALEBAN WHO SAYS SHUTTING TERROR CAMPS

DOSHANBEH 19TH June (IPS)
President Islam Karimov of Uzbakistan accused the ruling afghan Taleban to have turned this country into a centre for international terrorism posing threat not only to Central Asia but other regions as well.

Speaking at the end of the meeting of the leaders of five Central Asian Republics held in the Tajik Capital of Doshanbeh, Mr. Karimov said Afghanistan has become an "experimental centre" where fundamentalists and terrorists groups are formed and where camps exists to train every kind of international terrrorist.

"Such camps impart training for exploosion, killing and subversive activities", he pointed out in a press conference.

International terrorism was the central point of the Doshanbeh meeting.

Last month Taleban warned Mr. Karimov, who has jailed several Muslim extremists, not to co-operate with Russia fighting "Islamic terrorism" Moscow claims are trained in camps in Afghanistan to assist the separatist Chechen "rebellion".

As he was talking to reporters, Pakistani intelligence sources claimed that bowing to international pressures, the Taleban had closed three training camps and placed heavy restrictions on Arabs associated with Ossama Bin laden, the most wanted man in the United Sates and Russia.

They said Mollah Abdol Razzaq Akhund, the Taleban's Interior Minister has ordered the "immediate closure" of the camps following a visit to Pakistan in mid-May.

Reporting from Peshawar, "The News"'s Isma'il Khan said more than 1.300 activists of the Harakatul Mujahedeen and many Arabs were ordered to vacate the Rishkor military garrison, 25 Kilometres south of Kabul.

The garrison served as the largest training camp for radical Arabs and other groups, Mr. Khan said, quoting Pakistani and Afghan sources.

Two other camps including one at Kargha, about 8 km to the northwest of Kabul and a relatively smaller training facility were also ordered to close down

Seeking international help for the newly independent Central Asian nations to fight "Islamic extremism, terrorism and drug trafficking", Mr Karimov pointed out that as the immediate neighbours of Afghanistan, we cannot remain inactive spectators because religious extremism, international terrorism and drug trafficking are fast spreading from South".

"We've verified now that all the three camps have been closed down," a senior Pakistani official said last week. "There is no training going on there right now. All the militants and the Arabs have left", he assured, according to "The News".

A witness who visited Rishkor last week said that the complex situated in the foothills was deserted, except for dozen or so Taleban guards blocking the main entrance. "It is empty," he said.

Taleban have also limited the activities of the Arab radicals associated with Bin Laden, Pakistani sources said, adding that they have been ordered to vacate their hoiuses in Kabul and at Mr. Laden's guesthouse, situated in the city's Kart-i-Parwan district.

Pakistani sources said that the Taleban had suffered immensely from international sanctions imposed on Afghanistan last November for its refusal to hand over Osama Bin Laden. "They are worried. There are fears of further sanctions," the official said.

"Taleban had been told in black and white to heed to international concerns", the Pakistani official told "The News".

Pressures were also put on Pakistan, the Taleban's main protector, to use its influence over the Afghan ruling fundamentalists to shut down training camps for militants and radicals.

"The Musharraf government conveyed international concerns to the Taleban interior minister last month", Mr. Khan wrote.

There are no immediate reports of relocation or opening of new camps. Put together, there are roughly 2,500 militants of various origins, but mostly Arabs in Afghanistan, including the 600 to 700, fighting on the side of the Taleban.

An Afghan source said the Taleban would like to see the international reaction to their action. "The Taleban's future strategy vis-a-vis these camps hinges largely on what kind of response they get from the world. It depends on whether they receive any encouraging response," the official said.

Pakistan on its part has come down hard in recent months on militants and Arab veterans of the Afghan war. Two Jordanians have been extradited to Jordan in the last two weeks while six Arabs of African origin were picked up from an Afghan refugee camp near Peshawar and are being interrogated. Eight Arabs of different nationalities and scores of Pakistani militants have been arrested on the Pak-Afghan border, attempting to cross the frontier without valid travel documents. ENDS TALEBAN TERRORISM 19600

 


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