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One Killed in Anti-US Protest in Pakistan - 2001-10-14


One demonstrator was killed and at least 10 others injured when Pakistani troops broke up an anti-American protest in the southern city of Jacobabad. The protests occurred on the eve of a visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Demonstrators angrily chanted anti-American slogans as they gathered in Jacobabad after religious leaders called for protests against the presence of U.S. troops at the city's airport.

Police fired tear gas and bullets into the air as the crowd tried to march towards the airport, which had been sealed off by Pakistani authorities.

"Nearly 500 persons have been arrested today and many political workers of Jamaat-e-Islami have also been arrested," said Syed Munawar Hassan, Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami, one of Pakistan's most influential religious parties which was an organizer of the protest.

Pakistan, which has pledged support for the U.S. campaign aimed at flushing out suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, has said it will not tolerate violent protests.

Islamabad has acknowledged that it is allowing U.S. planes to land at airports located within Pakistan's borders. And witnesses have reported seeing American personnel at the airport near Jacobabad.

But Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammed Khan stresses that Pakistan's role in the campaign is limited to strictly logistical support. "There are no combat troops in Pakistan and that no operations are being launched from the territory of Pakistan," he said.

Though protests in mostly-Muslim Pakistan have been sporadic, a number of groups, including Jamaat-e-Islami, have pledged to hold renewed demonstrations and a nationwide strike Monday to protest the visit of Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Mr. Powell's brief stop in Islamabad is aimed at shoring up support for the U.S. campaign against terrorists it says are based in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry says in addition to discussing the military strikes, President General Pervez Musharraf will also seek to address the issue of Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan region at the heart of Pakistan's long rivalry with India.

Mr. Powell is scheduled to visit New Delhi after his talks with President Musharraf.