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Taleban Closes International Relief Agency - 2001-08-05


Afghanistan's ruling Taleban militia has closed the office of an international relief agency and arrested 24 foreign and local staff members for allegedly preaching Christianity.

The official Bakhtar news agency Sunday said security officials seized a bible, two computers and Christian literature in a raid against Shelter Now International.

The U.S.-based non-governmental organization has provided food, tents and blankets to poor Afghans for several years.

At least 16 of those arrested were Afghan nationals. The nationalities of the foreigners were not released.

The Taleban have imposed a strict and unique brand of Islamic law on Afghanistan. The propagation of religions other than Islam, and the conversion of a Muslim to another religion, are considered offenses in Afghanistan that are punishable by death.

The United Nations has frequently accused the Taliban of harassing foreign and local aid workers. The Taleban have denied the charges, but says foreigners working in Afghanistan must abide by their rules.

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