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Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 15:18 GMT

World: South Asia

Taleban warn US of God's wrath

Osama Bin Laden: Wanted by the US on terrorism charges

The head of Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement has warned the United States against imposing sanctions if Kabul fails to hand over Islamic militant Osama bin Laden by Sunday.

In a letter to "the American people" Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar said there would be "surprises" if the sanctions went ahead.

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The US, which accuses Mr bin Laden of masterminding last year's US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, wants him extradited on terrorism charges.

The United Nations Security Council has threatened to put in place economic sanctions unless the Taleban expel him from Afghanistan by 14 November.

In his letter, Mullah Omar said: "I call upon the people of the United States of America to bring pressure on their government and ask them to cease hostility with us.

"If you do not take a step in this will face earthquakes and storms from God, Almighty Allah, and then you will be surprised about what is coming to you and you will not be able to do anything about it."

Osama bin Laden

The US said the sanctions would go ahead.

"This is a United Nations resolution that has the backing of the Security Council and the international community," US spokesman, David Leavy said.

"What we are talking about is a threat that Mr bin Laden poses not only to the...United States but the international community," he added.

Last week, Mr bin Laden offered to leave Afghanistan for an undisclosed destination. But the US rejected the offer and said he must be handed over.

The Taleban said they were frustrated at America's refusal to negotiate on the matter.

"We have...shown readiness for negotiations but the US Government seems to be bent on force and looks down upon us," Mullah Omar said in his letter released from his headquarters in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan.

He said the Taleban were popular in Afghanistan and had rid the country of anarchy.

The Taleban, which control 90% of Afghanistan, have imposed a conservative version of Islamic rule on the country.

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