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Little sympathy for bin Laden in Yemeni and Afghan capitals

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Little sympathy for bin Laden in Yemeni and Afghan capitals


In Yemen pro-democracy activists have urged protesters not to display banners of Osama bin Laden, to avoid giving the government an excuse to crack down.

It has been fighting a long-running battle against al Qaeda militants especially in the poor Gulf state’s remote provinces.

The authorities have welcomed the US operation.

So have some people in Sanaa, although there is also disapproval for the way bin Laden was buried at sea.

“This makes a mockery of Arabs, this proves that Arabs have no say in anything and don’t carry any weight,” said one man.

But there was little sign of open support for bin Laden or his cause in the Yemeni capital.

“We felt sad about his death, as if he were Yemeni,” said a woman wearing a niqab. But then she went on to add: “He did ugly things, and so I say he deserved to die a thousand times, not just once.”

There have been fears that Yemen’s political crisis – with President Saleh refusing to step down – could trigger chaos allowing al Qaeda room for manoeuvre.

In Afghanistan there have been the first signs of attempted retaliatory attacks. The authorities said 25 foreign fighters, including Arabs, Chechens and Pakistanis, were killed or wounded after crossing the border from Pakistan.

Kabul is on alert. Some wonder whether NATO’s war is focused on the right country.

“Osama bin Laden was found by Americans in Pakistan and poor people are getting killed by bombings in Afghanistan,” said a young newspaper seller. “The government should ask why NATO is bombing places in Afghanistan when the terrorist was found in Pakistan,” he added.

But a retired schoolteacher said bin Laden’s death was irrelevant to the Afghan war, which was over a struggle to impose an Islamist state.

So far the Afghan Taliban have not commented. Their counterparts in Pakistan have threatened reprisals.

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