Report: Taliban Warns of Retaliation If Neighbors Aid US Attack
Afghanistan's Taliban regime Saturday warned that its fighters would retaliate with force if any neighboring country provided assistance to the United States for an attack on Afghanistan, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press reported.
"The possibility of a massive attack by our mujahideen (fighters) cannot be ruled out if any neighboring country offers its ground or air bases to US forces," AFP quoted a Taliban Foreign Ministry statement as saying in the report.
"They might be compelled to enter into that country and responsibility for the negative consequences would rest on that country," it said.
The Taliban warning came as Pakistan's government met to consider the extent of its support for any US attack on Afghanistan aimed at hitting the bases of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, who is suspected of orchestrating this week's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
The Taliban statement again denied that bin Laden, who has been sheltered by the Afghan militia for the past five years, could have been involved in the attacks.
Meanwhile, an Afghan Taliban diplomat said on Saturday that bin Laden was free to leave Afghanistan but would not be forced out, reported Reuters.
"If the man wanted to leave of his own will, we will not stop him. But if he wanted to stay in Afghanistan, we cannot make him leave," the agency quoted Taliban charge d'affaires in the United Arab Emirates, Aziz al-Rahman, as telling Abu Dhabi television in an interview aired on Saturday.
Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday for the first time named bin Laden, sheltered by the Taliban in Afghanistan, as a suspect in the terror attacks on New York and Washington in which thousands of people are feared killed.
The US Senate has unanimously approved a resolution authorizing President Bush "to use all necessary and appropriate force" in retaliation for the assaults.
Asked if there was any chance that the Taliban would consider handing over bin Laden to the United States to spare Afghanistan the prospect of military action, Aziz al-Rahman said: "Basically, this is not a consideration...We have no agreement with any country to extradite criminals or suspects to hand him over." – Albawaba.com
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