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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Strikes Spark Anger and Clashes in Arab World

BERLIN -- The U.S.-British attack on Afghanistan's Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden's network drew broad support Monday in Europe but prompted anger and protests in the Middle East, where some insisted Israeli actions against Palestinians also deserved punishment.

The attack drew criticism in Iran, Sudan and Lebanon, among other countries, and protests across the Islamic world.

In Luxembourg, the European Union's foreign ministers said in a statement that bin Laden, the chief suspect behind the Sept. 11 attacks, his al-Qaida movement and the Taliban regime that sheltered him "are now facing the consequences of their action."

The onslaught received wide backing in Germany and France, two of Washington's key NATO allies, which along with Canada and Australia have committed themselves to giving military support if required.

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine described the military action as "inevitable and necessary" after the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden.

In Spain, government spokesman Pio Cabanillas said Madrid was "absolutely ready" for its military to take a more active role if requested.

Delivering on its pledge of support, NATO agreed to send five AWACS early-warning planes and crews to the United States to free up U.S. surveillance aircraft for use in the campaign against bin Laden's network.

"There is no lack of enthusiasm for this campaign," NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson said.

Pope John Paul II offered a prayer for peace. The pontiff told a crowd in St. Peter's Square that he wanted to "share with you, and entrust to God, the worry and preoccupation that arises in us in this delicate moment of international life."

The EU ministers appealed to the United Nations to install a democratic government in Kabul and pledged to boost economic and other ties with Afghanistan's neighbors to promote stability in Central Asia.

The Afghan people "deserve a government which is truly representative and which corresponds to their needs and aspirations," the EU statement said.

The head of the UN special mission for Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, said Afghanistan needed a provisional government "that is formed by people who haven't belonged to the Taliban," Spain's EFE news agency reported.

But across the Middle East, many people accused the United States of applying a double standard by seeking to punish those responsible for terror strikes on U.S. soil while ignoring what they say is another kind of terror -- Israeli actions against Palestinians.

In Gaza, the Palestinian leadership rushed to distance itself Monday from bin Laden while its police forces opened fire on students at the at the Islamic University in Gaza City protesting the U.S.-led military strikes.

Two Palestinians, aged 13 and 21, were killed and 45 were injured, police said, in the worst internal fighting in several years.

Thousands of Taliban supporters in Pakistan burned buildings, battled police and demanded a holy war against America. Two UN offices were among the targets.

One person was killed and 26 were hurt in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, a doctor said.

Hundreds of Islamic militants protested outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia -- the world's most populous Muslim nation -- amid new threats against Westerners living there.

Mohammed Kheir, a Syrian government employee, said that "America is acting against Osama bin Laden without showing us proof, while the evidence of what Israel is doing to the Palestinians is there for all to see on television."

The Lebanese information minister, Ghazi Aridi, had a similar assessment. "The Arabs are asking, what about terrorism? Does it apply to Israel?" he said. "It is the right of Arabs and Muslims to raise the subject."

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, asserted that America's "real objective ... was domination and expansionism." Khomeini added that Israel has "every day for decades committed terrorist acts. Why has the United States not shown any reaction to this Zionist terrorism?"

Sudan's government, which also is listed by the U.S. State Department as a sponsor of terrorism, condemned "this war on Afghan land because it won't be a viable means for fighting violence and we don't see that it could be fair and that it won't touch the innocent Afghan people."

Sudanese students took to the streets Monday in Khartoum and shouted, "Long live bin Laden!" and "Down with America!"

Students also protested on campuses across Egypt in peaceful and generally small gatherings.

Despite U.S. President George W. Bush's repeated assurances to the Muslim world that his country is not waging a war against it, many feel the real target is their faith. "This is an unjustified act. It's an act of religious war on Muslims -- the new enemy of the United States," Jordanian businessman Mohammed Attar, 38, said in Amman.

"It is clear that this war targets the Islamic and Muslim renaissance," said Jamil Abu-Baker, a spokesman for Jordan's largest Islamic opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

"As we rejected the killing of the innocent civilians in America, we condemn the killing of the innocent civilians in Afghanistan," Abu-Baker added.