09/26/2008, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Karachi: three terrorists blow themselves up to avoid capture

by Qaiser Felix
They were preparing an attack against foreign targets. A hostage was also killed. Meanwhile, U.S. and Pakistani troops exchange fire near the Afghan border. Human rights group: to truly combat terrorism, protection for the population must be ensured above all.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - To avoid being taken by the police, three Islamic terrorists have blown themselves up in Karachi, where they were thought to be preparing an attack against foreign targets. The commission for human rights protection calls attention to the need to ensure protection for civilians above all.

Provincial police chief Babar Khattak says that the terrorists met the police incursion into their hiding place with heavy fire and grenades. They then blew themselves up (in the photo) to avoid being captured, killing a hostage as well, the owner of a company that supplies Western military forces in Afghanistan.

The anti-terrorism alarm is high in the country, after the attack on September 20 at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, which caused at least 53 deaths and wounded 266.

Meanwhile, this morning U.S. and Pakistani armed forces exchanged fire for several minutes at the Afghan border in the region of Khost. U.S. sources say the Pakistani soldiers fired first, against two U.S. helicopters, threatening to bring them down. But the Pakistani army says that its soldiers fired warning shots only after the helicopters crossed the country's border. There were no injuries, and experts note that the border line is very unclear.

There is strong anti-American sentiment in the country, after the September incursion in Waziristan to strike presumed Islamic terrorist bases, during which some civilians were also killed.

The United States and Afghanistan are asking Islamabad to take stronger action against terrorist bases in the border region. Today, Major Tariq Khan responded that in September, Pakistani forces killed more than 1,000 militants in the region of Bajaur.

Meanwhile, yesterday Asma Jahangir, head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), recalled the need to avoid making the situation worse for civilians in these areas, caught between Islamic militants and the army.

Speaking in Lahore, Asma emphasized how the the militants frequently control these areas and kill those who collaborate with the government, as demonstrated by the recent killings of Abdul Kabeer Khan, Musa Khan, and Muhammad Amin. Amin, the brother of a government minister, resisted the attack for hours, calling for help without receiving any. He and his family were massacred. In areas like the Swat, there are shortages of electricity, gas, and water, and even food is in short supply, for the population already in difficulty because of the imposition of a rigid curfew.

For this reason, the HRCP is calling for investigations into these killings, and above all for better protection for civilians, without the use of uncontrolled violence that strikes both militants and civilians.

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