UPI Terrorism Watch

Uzbekistan has deployed mines along its borders to cope with foreign-based terrorists since the late 1980s, according to reports in the country's Tribune newspaper.


Under the headline "Bin Laden crushed to death in earthquake," Sweden's Expressen tabloid reported that the al-Qaida leader's hiding place in north Pakistan was damaged in the earthquake that struck the region on Oct. 8, and that bin Laden did not survive.

Quoting Indian media reports received on the evening of Oct. 13 from several intelligence sources, Expressen claims the leader of al-Qaida was crushed to death. They wrote that the information first surfaced a few days ago and was considered unreliable, but now reports that "new information" has arrived.

Pakistani officials have increased their estimated death toll from the earthquake to more than 54,000.

Cote d'Ivoire's New Forces rebel group leader Guillaume Soro has set forth two conditions to end the country's civil war.

The People's Daily reported that Soro's two demands are creating an integrated staff for the two main armies involved in the conflict and designating the capital Yamoussoukro as a "green city," to be secured by international forces. Soro said, "As long as the two armies keep fighting each other, it is difficult to achieve disarmament."

Soro is pressing his peace plan on officials in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Benin, Togo, Niger, Mali and Ethiopia. He said, "The objective of this tour is to explain the situation of my country to the African authorities and ask for their help."

As a symbol of reconciliation, Soro suggested former President Henri Konan Bedie and former Prime Minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara should both move to Yamoussoukro.

Soro had harsh words for President Laurent Gbagbo, stating that as of Oct. 30, following national elections, he will no longer recognize Gbagbo's legitimacy, thereby reaffirming his rejection of the African Union's proposal to keep Gbagbo in office for another year. The African Union maintains that Gbagbo may help the country's transition to a new government while keeping peace negotiations moving forward. The elections are increasingly likely to be delayed.

Cote d'Ivoire has been in chaos since civil war erupted in 2003. The 2003 Marcoussis peace accord calls for the disarmament of rebel forces and significant reform to ensure the citizenry's full political participation. The rebels and the government accuse each other of failing to adhere to the terms of the agreement and are lobbying foreign governments for support.

India and Russia's first joint paratroop exercises began on Saturday.

The Pioneer reported that elite special airborne troops have begun a four-day program of joint exercises held against the backdrop of both countries' grappling with increasing urban terrorism and insurgencies.

The operation will include paratroops storming terrorist hideouts after parachuting into Rajasthan's designated Thar desert "danger zone." The troops will deploy specialized weaponry and communication systems.

The elite Russian troops are drawn from Moscow's 76 Airborne Division and the Indian Army's 50th Independent Parabrigade. Parabrigade commander Brig. Deepak Sinha said, the "political leadership of India and Russia have developed a level of cooperation in countering terrorism and it is natural for our two armies to carry forward this momentum. This training exercise will enable us to achieve and enhance interoperability between the two armies," adding that they are being held under a United Nations mandate.

Additional anti-terrorist war games to be held on the Mahajan field firing ranges near Bikaner will see the paratroopers deploying sniper rifles, assault rifles, specialized troop carriers and missiles, along with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for reconnaissance purposes, to storm a terrorist hideout. The Russian troops participating in the exercise earlier participated in the recent Russo-China joint exercises.

Uzbekistan has deployed mines along its borders to cope with foreign-based terrorists since the late 1980s, according to reports in the country's Tribune newspaper.

The Uzbeks mined a section of the Uzbek-Afghan border in the late 1980s and early 1990s after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. In 1998 the border was strengthened with antipersonnel mines after the Taliban began active military operations in Afghanistan's northern provinces. The following year, the Uzbek government directed the Ministry of Defense and the Committee for State Frontier Protection to begin mining the country's border with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to stymie the rising threat from Islamic terrorist groups.

Minefields now occupy up to 70 percent of the Uzbek-Tajik frontier. Mines were also placed around the Uzbek enclaves of Soh and Shakhimardan in Kyrgyzstan's southern Batken province and adjacent sections of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz Fergana valley frontier.

As Uzbek-Turkmen relations worsened in 2003, Tashkent fortified its western frontier with antipersonnel and antitank mines to prohibit incursions of armed groups from the Karakum desert.

Von: 18 October 2005, http://www.upi.com by JOHN C.K. DALY AND JENNIFER SCHULTZ

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