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Ashura day attacks condemned world wide

March 04, 2004

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NEW YORK, March 3: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday condemned the terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Iraq which left scores of people dead and injured. In a statement Mr Annan said he is particularly appalled that the incidents took place around Muslim shrines during the holy occasion of Ashura.

Mr Annan urged Iraqis "to refrain from acts that could undermine efforts to achieve national reconciliation at this delicate stage of the country's political situation." He also reiterated that all Iraqis should work toward building political consensus and national reconciliation.

Reacting to Tuesday's attack on an Ashura procession in Quetta, Mr Annan said he was "similarly appalled" by the attack in Quetta and voiced condemnation of the "cowardly" offensive.

He offered his condolences to the families of the victims, noting that "all terrorist acts, whatever their justifications, are morally reprehensible and wholly indefensible."

Asked by reporters whether the UN believed the Iraq bombings were part of a plan by some people to pit Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims against each other, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said: "We would like to think that the attacks are politically motivated and not based on religion, or not solely based on religion."

The attacks have also been denounced by the Security Council and the Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Ambassador Jean Marc de la Sabliere of France, Security Council President for March, described the attacks as horrendous. Speaking to reporters in New York, he added that the Council condemned attempts to divide Muslims against each other.

Bertrand Ramcharan, the Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the attacks could not be justified in any way and called for an all-out effort to bring those responsible to justice.

OIC: The Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Gulf Cooperation Council on Wednesday also condemned the suicide attacks in Baghdad and Kerbala, urging Iraqis not to be dragged into internecine fighting, AFP adds from Riyadh.

The OIC similarly denounced an attack on Ashura procession which left almost 50 dead in Quetta on Tuesday. "Such terrorist acts can only be designed to incite sectarian (Sunni-Shia) strife and infighting among Muslims and to shed their blood," said OIC Secretary-General Abdulwahed Belkeziz in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

The six-nation GCC urged the Iraqi people to "close ranks and entrench national unity" following the attacks in Baghdad and Karbala.

JAPAN: Japan on Wednesday strongly condemned the bombing incidents in Baghdad and Karbala, and terrorist attacks in Quetta, on Tuesday. APP adds. A press release issued by the Embassy of Japan in Islamabad said: "Japan is deeply shocked and angered by the terrorist bombings in Baghdad and Karbala, Iraq, and the attacks in Quetta that occurred on Tuesday, causing many deaths and injuries".

"Terrorism cannot be justified on any account. Japan reiterates its firm condemnation of brutal terrorist attacks, which victimize the innocent". "I extend my heartfelt condolences to the victims and the bereaved and wish the injured will have a speedy recovery".