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14 Are Detained in Probe of Anti-Taliban Leader's Death

November 27, 2001|From Times Wire Services

PARIS — Police detained 14 people in Belgium and France on Monday in connection with the slaying of Ahmed Shah Masoud, the military leader of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, officials said.

The suspects were reportedly believed to be connected to a group that issued false identification papers to members of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.

French police officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said two people were detained in raids conducted by intelligence agents in Paris and northern France and that 12 others were detained in Belgium. Belgian prosecutors would say only that several people were detained in raids on 11 homes.

Masoud, who fought against the Taliban forces that harbored Bin Laden, was fatally wounded just days before Sept. 11 by two suicide bombers who posed as journalists. They reportedly were carrying Belgian passports, which Belgian authorities believe were stolen from a Belgian consulate in France or the embassy in The Hague.

The killers are suspected of having been sent by Bin Laden, who is now believed to be in southern Afghanistan.

Jos Colpin, a spokesman for the Belgian prosecutor's office, said Monday's raids were conducted in Brussels, Leuven and Mons.

French radio station Europe 1 said the operation was coordinated with British police.

A Belgian examining magistrate is to decide by today whether to keep under arrest those detained in Belgium.

Colpin declined to confirm a report by Europe 1 that those arrested were Tunisians and Moroccans.

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