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Unidentified Gunmen Fire At International Peacekeepers in - 2002-02-16


Unidentified gunmen have fired at British security forces in the Afghan capital Kabul -- the first attack against international peacekeepers since they first arrived in Afghanistan in December.

British soldiers serving with the International Security Assistance Force returned fire when their observation post came under attack (Saturday), and they then were evacuated from their position.

The security force's chief of staff, Colonel Richard Barrons, said none of the British soldiers was injured. But he said British troops later returned to the scene to find a car riddled with bullets and a dead man in a nearby house. Five other people in the house were injured, but not from gunshots. They were taken to a local hospital.

Afghan police are investigating this first attack against the international peacekeeping force.

Meanwhile, a slain Afghan minister was buried in Kabul, as the interim government vowed to find the perpetrators of what it calls a well-planned vendetta.

At least three suspects have been arrested in Afghanistan. News reports quote officials in Saudi Arabia as saying they have taken custody of three other suspects who escaped there and are willing to extradite them.

Meanwhile, the first contingent of Turkish troops arrived in Afghanistan to join the international peacekeepers already in place there. Muslim Turkey has signaled a willingness to take over leadership of the multi-national force when Britain's term ends in April.

In another development, U-S officials say the military installation (camp X-Ray) at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has reached its capacity of 300 al-Qaida and Taleban detainees, and will not receive others until more prison cells are built.

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