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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Masood attack: Reports differ wildly
A Taleban tank outside Kabul
The Taleban has renewed attacks against opposition forces
Afghan opposition leader Ahmed Shah Masood was killed or seriously injured in an attack by suicide bombers in his headquarters in the garrison town of Khwaja Baha-Uddin on Sunday. Here is what reports around the world are saying.

The BBC's Afghan analyst, Baqer Moin, quoting "reliable sources" says Mr Masood is dead.

Ahmed Shah Masood
Ahmed Shah Masood is a focal point of anti-Taleban forces
He said two reporters - allegedly Arab - were interviewing Mr Masood when one of them asked if he could take pictures with his video camera.

He picked the camera up and it exploded, killing the reporter along with Mr Masood and the Afghan opposition's ambassador to India.

Regional expert Michael Barry told the BBC he believed the suicide bombers were north African Muslims living in Belgium who had received multiple entry visas from the Pakistani embassy in London.

He said such a well organised attack must have had the backing of a larger organisation.

"Such elaborate measures taken to convey these people all the way to their target - and to convince them to kill somebody who is not a member of their country or of any immediate political importance to them - argues an extraordinarily elaborate organisation."

Opposition in crisis
BBC Afghan analyst Baqer Moin says Ahmed Shah Masood was killed n the attack
Unnamed US sources and Russian officials also say Mr Masood is dead
Mr Masood's brother insists he is alive and recovering in hospital
Afghan opposition leaders also say Mr Masood survived

A spokesman for Mr Masood, Bismillah Khan, said the two bombers had been welcomed into opposition territory as journalists.

He said they first conducted interviews with opposition soldiers in Shomali, about 30 miles north of Kabul, and were then taken to meet Mr Masood.

Mehrab Mastan, the opposition's ambassador in Paris, told AP news agency the bomb was either hidden in the camera or concealed around the waist of one of the bombers.

Mr Mastan said the interview was conducted in the office of a spokesman for Mr Masood who was also killed. The two journalists and the spokesman were sitting at one end of the room, with Mr Masood several feet away.

An Afghan opposition spokesman is quoted by AP as saying the bombers were Arabic-speaking north Africans travelling on Belgian passports.

But news agency AFP reported a statement from the Afghanistan's opposition saying that Mr Masood had survived the bomb attack and had been airlifted to a hospital in neighbouring Tajikistan.

It said he had "escaped serious injury".

Local opposition commander Besmillah told AFP: "It is calm now and the situation is normal. The enemy was thwarted."

Reuters news agency said the Russian newspaper Kommersant was reporting that Mr Masood was being treated by Russian military doctors in Tajikistan.

But the report drew a swift denial from a Russian military spokesman.

Russia's Itar-Tass news agency has reported that Mr Masood is dead.

And an unnamed US official told Reuters: "We believe he is dead. Intelligence reports from the region and elsewhere say he is dead.''

But State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said he was unable to confirm reports that Masood was dead or alive.

Mr Masood's brother Ahmed Wali Masood, who runs the Afghan embassy in Britain, told AFP: "He survived the bomb but has been unconscious for one and a half days. Doctors are very optimistic."

However, some analysts are sceptical about the alleged assassination attempt.

They have told the BBC that Masood was always very careful with security and it was difficult to believe that a suicide bomber could get that close to him.

They believe he could have been killed or injured in a completely unrelated incident, such as a landmine explosion.

See also:

10 Sep 01 | South Asia
Profile: The Lion of Panjshir
17 Apr 01 | South Asia
Anti-Taleban leaders plan strategy
05 Apr 01 | South Asia
Anti-Taleban leader calls for support
05 Apr 01 | South Asia
Europe fetes anti-Taleban leader
14 Feb 01 | South Asia
Taleban lose key city
16 Sep 00 | South Asia
Afghan war threatens region
03 Aug 98 | South Asia
Afghanistan's years of bloodshed
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