Injured Arab Patients threaten to blow themself up in Afghanistangreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
Injured Arab Patients Threaten to Blow Themselves Up
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) - Fearing retribution, 13 injured Arab fighters have strapped explosives to their waists and threatened to blow themselves up if anyone other than medical staff enters their rooms at Kandahar's main hospital. The desperate patients, suspected of links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network, were wounded by U.S. bombing or shot in fighting with Afghan tribal forces opposed to the Taliban.
"They have given an ultimatum. If someone else comes in, they'll blow themselves up," Ghulam Mohammed Afghan, head nurse at Mirwais Hospital, said Thursday. "Only a few nurses are allowed to go in. Even I don't visit them."
The standoff began 10 days ago when Arab fighters pulled trucks up to the hospital gates and left their injured comrades. The city was still in the hands of the Taliban, who later abandoned it under pressure from U.S. bombing and tribal forces closing in on their last stronghold.
While Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's interim leader, offered amnesty to Taliban who handed in their weapons, less mercy has been shown toward Arabs who came to Afghanistan to fight a jihad, or holy war.
There have been isolated reports of Arab prisoners being executed in the Kandahar area, and many fought ferociously even as the Taliban were giving up and fleeing to their villages or the mountains.
The Arabs in the hospital lie in their beds with hand grenades and other explosives strapped to them, Mohammed said.
"They don't allow anybody to see them except just those who are treating them, dressing the wounds or cleaning the rooms," he said. "They are scared and they don't want to talk about anything. It's extremely difficult for the hospital staff because they or other patients could get injured."
But he said he had a duty to treat them and expected that the International Committee of the Red Cross, which funds the hospital, would eventually take charge of his taciturn patients.
The Arabs, staying in three guarded rooms, have benefited for now from the lack of coherent authority in Kandahar, which rival commanders have divided among themselves.
The hospital is guarded by forces loyal to Mullah Naqibullah, who helped broker the Taliban's surrender of Kandahar but has been accused of being too close to the Islamic militia.
On one occasion, the head nurse said, fighters of the new anti-Taliban governor, Gul Agha Sherzai, arrived and demanded entry. Naqibullah's men turned them back.
There is a "no weapons" symbol - an automatic rifle in a red circle with a bar through the middle - at the hospital entrance, but it is widely ignored.
Gunmen wandered around the parking lot, and one fighter in a ward corridor diffidently concealed his Kalashnikov rifle under his cloak. The muzzle protruded.
Mohammed did not even pause at half a dozen gunshots outside as he explained the quandary with his Arab patients. Several of his office windows were broken by U.S. bombing.
The nurse is also treating Afghans badly injured by the airstrikes, including several children who lost limbs. Eleven-year-old Kasim Qadir moaned in pain, his right leg amputated and much of his body swathed in bandages.
His brother, Abdul, said Qadier was walking home from school when he picked up an unexploded cluster bomblet. Not knowing what it was, he threw it on the ground a couple of times. The third time, it exploded.
Elsewhere in Kandahar, tribal fighters picked through the ransacked, spacious compound of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban's spiritual leader who is now a fugitive. They quarreled over which room they would stay in, and gazed at the murals of rural scenes and tiled bathrooms, luxuries for most Afghans.
"No one was permitted to see or to visit this place," said Kaka, a Kandahar resident who came to look. "This isn't just. This place is like a castle, so many rooms. He built this just for himself and his Arab friends."
A day earlier, the compound was full of activity, with Karzai meeting local leaders. Up to 50 U.S. special forces who were staying in the compound have also left, leaving behind all-American trash: empty Dr. Pepper soda cans and wrappers of Bazooka bubble gum and Reese's Cups chocolates.
apoc note: Why doesn't someone in a bomb-suit just enter the room and make things... a little less difficult?
-- Anonymous, December 13, 2001