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Fighting terror: notebook

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2002


Police raid Pakistan hideout in gunbattle

Police raid Pakistan hideout in gunbattle

KARACHI, Pakistan -- Police commandos fought a pitched battle with al-Qaida suspects holed up in an apartment Wednesday, with combat spilling out onto adjoining rooftops. Two suspects were killed and five captured in the fighting, as Pakistan stepped up pressure on the remnants of the terrorist movement a year after it made its mark on the world.

Six officers, including two intelligence agents, were wounded when police stormed the top-floor apartment and the rooftop where the gunmen held out against hundreds of troops in the street and on the roofs of nearby apartment blocks. Two of the wounded were reported in critical condition.

Police said one of the dead militants and one of those arrested were Arabs, but their nationalities were not known. The rest were Afghans, he said.

Police seized a laptop computer and "literature," plus an arsenal of assault rifles, submachine guns, pistols and hand grenades, an intelligence agent on the scene said on condition of anonymity.

Karachi, a warren-like city of 12-million, has become a refuge for al-Qaida and Taliban fighters who fled Afghanistan when U.S.-led coalition forces chased them into the mountains bordering Pakistan after the collapse of the Taliban regime.

The fighting began Wednesday morning when agents of Pakistan's intelligence agency and police raided the apartment after receiving a tip that suspicious people were living there.

Two militants were seized initially, but police retreated under fire from the others, authorities said.

Hearing the gunfire, an unidentified neighbor called the police and reinforcements were brought in. The gunmen fired and lobbed grenades from the apartment window, then fled to the roof where they took position on the corners, police and witnesses said.

Police commandos in body armor and helmets entered the building and slowly worked their way to the upper floors. During a lull, police called on them to surrender. The gunmen responded with chants of "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Great."

Moments later, the siege ended.

In a separate raid in Karachi on Wednesday, Pakistani security forces arrested five Islamic militants suspected of planning terrorist attacks on American fast-food restaurants in the city. All five men were members of a splinter group of Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen, or Movement of Holy Warriors, who had received weapons training in Afghanistan, police said.

In Yemen, U.S. Ambassador Edmund J. Hull said that two suspected Muslim militants arrested by Yemeni authorities last month in connection with an explosion were members of the al-Qaida network and had been planning a terror attack. Two other militants were killed when a bomb they were preparing blew up prematurely on Aug. 9.

FBI searches former home of scientist Hatfill again

WASHINGTON -- FBI agents searched the former home of Dr. Steven Hatfill, a focus of attention in the anthrax case, for the third time on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

The search was carried out under the authority of a warrant, said an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Hatfill's spokesman, Pat Clawson, said Hatfill was not informed of the search and has not lived in the apartment in Frederick, Md., since Aug. 12. Hatfill's apartment has been searched twice before, the second time under warrant.

"He doesn't know anything about it if they did search the house," Clawson said. "If they are looking for something, how come they didn't find it during the first two searches?"

Chris Murray, spokesman for the FBI's Washington field office had no comment on the matter.

Five people were killed by anthrax-tainted letters sent through the mail last fall. The FBI has identified Hatfill as a "person of interest" in its investigation but says he is no more or less important than about 30 fellow scientists and researchers with the expertise and opportunity to conduct the attacks.

Hatfill has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks and says the Justice Department is ruining his life by linking him to the crimes.

Slain journalist Pearl to be honored in music

LOS ANGELES -- Slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl will be honored with a worldwide series of concerts organized around his birthday on Oct. 10.

"He always carried an instrument with him wherever he went," said Judea Pearl, Daniel's father. Pearl, 38, who was kidnapped and slain by terrorists in Pakistan in January, was a violinist, fiddler and mandolin player.

A free folk music festival featuring Scottish, Irish, bluegrass and harp music will take place Oct. 6 in Encino, where Pearl grew up, the Daniel Pearl Foundation announced Tuesday.

Every artist performing will dedicate a song to Pearl, said Elaine Weissman, executive director of the California Traditional Music Society, festival sponsor.

Orchestras and other ensembles in several cities will remember Pearl on or around Oct. 10, including groups in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangkok, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, London, Boston and Goa, India, his father said.

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