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Thousands Stage Anti-US Protest in Afghanistan - 2001-10-02

Thousands of Afghans have staged an anti-U.S. demonstration in the southern city of Kandahar, the headquarters of Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement. Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan briefed officials on the status of the U.S. investigation into last month's terrorist attacks.

The demonstrators marched through the streets of Kandahar to protest against threatened U.S. attacks. A Taleban official, Ahmad Javed Saadat, told VOA by telephone from the southern Afghan city that demonstrators at the rally vowed to resist if the United States imposed war or what they called a "puppet" government on Afghanistan.

He says the demonstrators warned those countries which have promised to facilitate a U.S. military operation against the Taleban. The protesters burned U.S. flags and effigies of President George W. Bush and Zahir Shah, the exiled Afghan king, while rejecting American demands for the surrender of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

In neighboring Pakistan, thousands of people have also taken to the streets in the southwestern city of Quetta, condemning the United States for threatening attacks against the Taleban. The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, a hard-line Islamic party, organized the rally in a show of support for the Taleban rulers in Afghanistan.

Tuesday's demonstrations come one day after anti-Taleban groups meeting in Rome announced plans to try to overthrow the Taleban rulers by rallying Afghans behind the 86-year-old exiled king, Zahir Shah. The meeting was encouraged by the United States.

Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, Wendy Chamberlin, met with Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf for more than one hour Tuesday. There are reports that the United States has started sharing evidence with its allies showing Osama bin Laden masterminded last month's terror attacks.

Riaz Mohammad Khan, a spokesman for Pakistan foreign ministry, said Ambassador Chamberlin "informed [President Musharraf] about the status of [the U.S.] investigation. We have yet to receive any detailed evidence with regard to the persons responsible for the horrendous acts of September 11 and their linkages with al-Qaida or Mr. Bin Laden."

Pakistan has promised to provide full support to the United States in its campaign to get alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and crush his al-Qaida group, the prime suspects in the attacks in New York and Washington.