U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING MARCH 8, 1995 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING I N D E X Wednesday, March 8, 1995 Briefer: Christine Shelly PAKISTAN Karachi --Update on Attack on U.S. Consulate Vehicle .........1-2 --Details on Weapon, Vehicle: License Plate, Safety Features .................1-5 --U.S. Response ....................................1-2 --Notification of American Community .............1 --U.S./Pakistan Coordination on Increased Security .....................................2-3 --Investigation of the Incident by Pakistan, FBI .2-3 --Statement by Secretary of State Christopher ....2 --Information on the Victims .....................1,8 --Possible Motives for Attack ........................5,7 --Mrs. Clinton's Planned Trip to the Region ..........3 --Previous Violent Incidents Against Amers./ Foreigners .......................................4 --Latest U.S. Public Announcement on Violence ........4 --Figures on American Employees Killed Abroad ........5 --Terrorist Groups Operating in Pakistan .............5-6 --Steps taken by Pakistani Gov't. against Radical Grps .....................................6 --Terrorist Acts vs. State Sponsorship of Terrorism...7-8 IRAQ Reports of Increased Tensions/Hostilities ............8-9 INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS Allegation against WTO Candidate/former It. Trade Min. ........................................9 NORTH KOREA Report of DPRK Remarks re: S. Korean Lt. Water Reactor ...........................................9-10 FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Croatia --Assistant Secretary Holbrooke/Tudjman Meeting ......10 --Briefing of Contact Group Members/Relevant Parties re: Proposals on Continued International Presence ........................................10 --Assistant Secretary Holbrooke in New York/Travel ...11 TAIWAN --Proposed Visit Of Taiwan President to U.S. .........11
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8, 1995, 12:55 P. M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let me begin with an update on what I can tell you about the attack which occurred in Karachi today, which killed two American employees at our Consulate General there.
At approximately 7:50 a.m. local time on Wednesday, March 8 -- that's 9:50 in the evening on Tuesday in Washington -- the U.S. Consulate's shuttle bus was attacked by at least one man armed with an AK-47.
The incident occurred after the shuttle picked up three American Foreign Service personnel from their residences a few miles from the Consulate. While enroute to the Consulate, the bus stopped at a traffic light on a major thoroughfare, where a taxi pulled up alongside.
At least one man leapt out of the taxi, shot out the windshield of the bus and proceeded to fire a large number of rounds into the bus. All three passengers were hit. The driver was unharmed.
In the aftermath of the attack, Consulate employee Mark McCloy ordered the bus driver to head for the Aga Khan hospital. Gary Durrell, a communications technician, was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. Jacqueline Van Landingham, a secretary in the Economic Section of the Consulate, later died from her wounds. Mr. McCloy is in stable condition at the hospital.
We are outraged and saddened by this attack, and extend our deepest condolences to the families of our colleagues. We will do everything possible to assist Pakistani authorities in bringing these criminals to justice.
The Consulate has been in a heightened state of security preparedness because of the violence in Karachi for the past several months. The U.S. Embassy has informed the American community throughout Pakistan of the attack, urging American citizens to exercise prudent security precautions.
We are coordinating with Pakistani authorities on providing increased security for Americans.
The Pakistani Government has strongly condemned the attack and sent messages of condolence. Authorities in Karachi have provided increased security for the Consulate and its personnel and are investigating the incident.
The FBI, in accordance with its responsibilities under U.S. law, is sending a team of forensic investigators to Karachi. The Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security is sending personnel to enhance security at the Consul General in Karachi and the Embassy in Islamabad.
The Consulate bus appears to have been deliberately targeted, which indicates this was a terrorist attack. To our knowledge, no one has claimed responsibility. We have no information at this time about who made the attack or what their motives were.
I'd also like to refer you to the statement which Secretary Christopher put out in Cairo earlier today, also expressing his condolences to the families and condemning this terrorist attack.
I'll be happy to take your questions.
Q There's an AP story out of Karachi that says that the bus had a license plate which would have identified it as an American vehicle. Do all of the vehicles there have these plates?
MS. SHELLY: On that point, I don't have any specific information on that, but I don't have any information to suggest the contrary. This is often a kind of system which is used overseas in the assignment of diplomatic plates. This is a system certainly that I'm familiar with, having been posted abroad before, that there often is a number on plates which is assigned to a specific diplomatic mission. So that would not be unusual for that type of a system to occur.
Q Does it affect the First Lady's trip to Pakistan later this month?
MS. SHELLY: That's a question I think you probably most appropriately should direct to the White House, and I think in fact Mike McCurry has already addressed that earlier today. I believe what he said and a quick answer to that was that he did not think that it would affect Mrs. Clinton's planning.
I would just note on that that to my knowledge she was not scheduled to visit Karachi, but I'm certain that all security issues related to her travel will certainly be carefully examined prior to there being a final decision on the trip. But I'm not aware of there being any change in her travel plans.
Q Did the Pakistanis invite the FBI, or are they just sort of showing up?
MS. SHELLY: We have our own procedures, of course, which we have to put in place when there is a death of an American or there is any kind of substantial damage to any kind of U.S. premises which occurs abroad.
I don't know whether the issue of whether or not they were specifically invited by the Pakistani authorities -- I'm not even sure that's particularly relevant at this point.
We have our own investigations that we conduct, and it was certainly prudent to get them out there as fast as they can and to have them participate in the investigation.
Q Do you know if the bus was bulletproofed?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't believe that it was.
Q Wouldn't it be prudent in a case where there have been some 1,000 killings in the last year and a lot of anti- American sentiment to have bulletproofed it?
MS. SHELLY: Jim, certainly in a perfect world, every vehicle that we have overseas where Americans might possibly be targeted ideally would be bulletproof. However, the fact of the matter is that it's not. There are some vehicles which are. It's an extremely costly thing to do, and so the cost itself in many cases is prohibitive. There are also vans which are used for common transportation. Also, I understand they're often not built in order to be able to sustain the additional weight which goes with bulletproofing of vehicles.
Certainly all appropriate security precautions will be examined and will be put into place. But I think as a practical matter, as desirable as it might be to have bulletproof vehicles transporting Americans, I think as a practical matter it's not likely to be adopted absolutely everywhere.
Q Have Americans been targeted at all prior to this in Karachi? Were there threats? Was there anything that led security people to believe that something like this or a similar incident could happen?
MS. SHELLY: I've been trying to check on this point about what we know about any other violent incident involving either American personnel or foreigners. I don't know if my list is exhaustive at this point.
A Swiss aid worker was murdered on July 31, 1994, in Karachi. He was shot in his vehicle in traffic by two motorcyclists. The crime remains unsolved. The motive remains unknown.
A Consulate -- this is the U.S. Consulate -- vehicle was hijacked in early July of 1994 in a major shopping area. An American Consulate employee was involved but was unharmed. The motive appeared to be robbery.
I've been trying to get, naturally, as good a picture I can about the types of problems because the violence in and around Karachi is certainly very well known. My understanding of the types of incidents have been a very large number of drive-by shootings and things like that.
I don't think that we had any other specific information regarding the targeting of Americans or the targeting of foreigners except, of course, as we believe that we've seen in this case that it appears by the way that the vehicle was driven and the action was undertaken that the vehicle did appear to be specifically targeted.
Q Was it normal procedure for employees like this to be picked up, or was this a security precaution that was instituted, say, during the Gulf War or some other time for other reasons?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know the specific answer to that. As you know, there was a heightened state of alert which I mentioned before, and we had also put out a travel -- I'm sorry, let me get the exact terminology here -- we had a public announcement on Pakistan as recently as February 10, which talked about levels of sectarian and factional violence having increased in Pakistan.
One of the things that we're also doing in connection with last night's developments is we're, of course, looking at the public announcement that we put out and we'll update it to reflect the most recent developments.
It is a common practice abroad, where group transportation arrangements can be made, for there to be van- type transportation arrangements for Embassy employees. I don't know specifically whether this was something that has been going on for a long time or whether this is something that has been introduced recently in the context of, as I mentioned, a heightened state of security preparedness because of the violent situation.
Q Do you know who the last American government employees who were killed abroad are?
MS. SHELLY: I do not, but let me put that up as a taken question.
Q Christine, you said that the van appears to have been deliberately targeted, which indicates this was a terrorist attempt -- attack. Do you have any indication of a possible motive, or can you address the working hypothesis of the U.S. Government about the possible motive here?
MS. SHELLY: No, because as I mentioned already, we don't have any information on motive. But it was simply my understanding, based on the way that the vehicle was driven and pulling up right in front of the van and blocking it and the way the individuals got out and fired -- that based on the information that we do have, that it is our firm view that the specific vehicle was targeted.
Q What would you say in connection with speculation that it may have been in retaliation for the arrest of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef?
MS. SHELLY: Certainly that speculation is out there, but I don't have any specific information to make that kind of assessment at this time. Examining all of the available information and evidence that we have is something that will occur in the context of our review of the incident. I simply don't have anything to be able to make that assessment today.
Q Do you have any information handy on which terror groups operate in Pakistan?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have that. I think that you're aware of the fact that we had some information on the situation in Pakistan that we put in the context of our last report on terrorism. I can see if there's anything that we might be able to add beyond that. I'll check and see.
Q The Post had a story today about a supposedly tolerant Pakistani Government attitude toward the existence of terrorist recruiting operations in Karachi. Do you have any response to that?
MS. SHELLY: Yes, I do have a response on that specific point, having obviously also seen the article today.
The Pakistani Government has taken a number of steps against radical groups, including expelling foreign radicals from the country, as was referenced in The Washington Post article.
Pakistan has also been cooperative in individual cases, such as the arrest of Ramzi Yousef and the search for Mir Amal Kansi, who is wanted in connection with an attack outside the CIA Headquarters two years ago.
Certainly, we're aware of the reports and of the activities that are referred to in the Washington Post report. I think if you check what we did say about Pakistan in our last terrorism report, it also touches on that type of issue as well.
Q Do you know if the van had been followed for some distance by this taxicab?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know the answer to that.
Q Has the Pakistani Government given any kind of a pledge of cooperation to work with the FBI investigators when they arrive?
MS. SHELLY: We have already heard, as I think you may be aware, from Benazir Bhutto. She sent a letter to President Clinton this morning conveying her deep regrets at the tragic incident and also giving the assurance that every effort would be made to apprehend the perpetrators of this act of terrorism.
Q Specifically, on cooperation with the American investigators, did she say anything about that, or has any other Pakistani --
MS. SHELLY: I don't know whether she had the specific information about who exactly we were sending in and how we would be conducting our part of the investigation, but I certainly have no reason to believe that there will be anything less than full Pakistani cooperation with our authorities on this.
Q Christine, is there any indication from those who were in the bus, who were shot up, as to the motive, or of any of those people being a specific target of this attack, a la the case of the shootings outside of the CIA? Is there any correlation there?
MS. SHELLY: Bill, we're not in a position to answer that today. Obviously, in the context of our own investigation, the remaining individual, who is hospitalized at this point, we will obviously be talking with him to try to see if there's anything else that we can pick up from that. Obviously, we'll be getting information on a number of sources. But it's simply too early to have an answer to that question.
Q Was there any indication that there had been any warnings or threats made before this incident occurred?
MS. SHELLY: Not specifically that I'm aware, except for the general state of alert that existed in the aftermath of some of the more recent developments, including the generally bad security environment regarding these types of drive-by shootings and other types of violent activities in the Karachi area.
Q You said that they were shot by an AK-47. Where did the arms come from? Any idea?
MS. SHELLY: I'm sorry, I didn't understand the question.
Q The AK-47, where does it come from?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know if we have the answer to that question.
Q The U.S. has been for the last several months describing Pakistan as a moderate Islamic state. Would this incident cause the U.S. to reconsider and have a re-look at this description?
Also, Pakistan was taken off the terrorist watch list last year. Would there be a reconsideration of this?
MS. SHELLY: On the first part of your question, what has occurred, of course, is a specific incidence of violence which, as best as we can determine, involved targeting against an American vehicle that had American diplomatic personnel in it.
I think at this point it is very difficult to make an extension of that to generalize about Pakistan as a country, or specifically the relationship.
Your point about the terrorism list, as I think you know, the list of state sponsors of terrorism is one which is under continuous review. A formal report on this is made to Congress each January, and, of course, on any changes to the list.
As I think you're aware from last January's report, Secretary Christopher concluded that the available evidence did not warrant a finding that Pakistan has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. We have had, of course, serious concerns about reports of official Pakistani support for Kashmiri militants who may have committed acts of terrorism.
We have made clear to the Government of Pakistan that if justified by the facts, any country could be named as a state sponsor of terrorism under U.S. law at this time. However, I would like to be very clear in making the distinction between an act of terrorism, which occurs on the territory of a country, and the issue related to putting countries on the terrorism list, which has to do with the state sponsorship of terrorism. In this case, these are certainly distinct activities.
Q Do you all have any pictures of the people who died or the man who survived that you can release? Do you have any hometown information about these people?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any pictures. I'll check and see if that's available. I think I have a little bit of additional information. I'll just check.
Ms. Vanlandingham was born on October 26, 1961, in Camden, South Carolina. She is survived by her husband and two daughters. She has been employed by the Department of State since July 1985.
Mr. Durrell was born January 8, 1950, in Alliance, Ohio. He is survived by his wife, a stepson and a daughter. Mr. Durrell has been employed by the Department of State since June 1985.
Q Christine, on another area, do you have any indication of what's going on in Iraq? There are mounting reports of heavy fighting in both the north involving the Kurds and also again in the south involving the Shi'ites in the marshes?
MS. SHELLY: We have seen some reports of increased tensions and hostilities there. I don't have a work-up on that for today except to note that we've seen the reports. I'll be happy to check and see if there's anything more concrete that we can put out. But we are aware of the fact that in recent days there had been some increase in tensions and hostilities.
Q Christine, do you have information on the third person -- the person who was wounded?
MS. SHELLY: I wasn't able to get that before the briefing, but let me see if I can put that up after the briefing.
Q Christine, the Journal of Commerce has reported that the U.S. Government has intelligence damaging to Mr. Ruggerio's candidacy for the WTO. What do you have on that?
MS. SHELLY: I've seen that report. We don't comment on intelligence reports. But I can say that the allegation reported in the March 7 Journal of Commerce concerning former Italian Trade Minister Ruggerio appears completely without basis.
We do not approve of any attempt to affect the reputation of individuals by leaks and innuendos. We have full respect for those who have offered their candidacies as international public servants in the WTO.
As to the general issue regarding the filling of that position, the U.S. is continuing to look at all options. We have not endorsed or rejected any candidate for the WTO/DG position. We do feel strongly that the decision on the WTO Director General position should be made by consensus.
Q Christine, there's a report out of Geneva that the North Koreans are warning that they would break off the nuclear accord if the U.S. continues to try to force Pyongyang to accept South Korea light- water reactors. Do you have anything on that?
MS. SHELLY: We've seen the report. I got the same type of question yesterday at the briefing and answered it then. I can certainly come back and answer it another time.
As you know, the KEDO talks start today in New York. So the timing on this is probably not just coincidental. Our position on this remains exactly as it was before, which is, regarding the South Korean reactors, there is no alternative to this other than to note that we're aware of their statements.
We believe that the actions by KEDO, when it meets this week, will also confirm that there is no other alternative to this; and that in the meetings that take place that they will determine that the light-water reactor should be and will be of the Republic of Korea model which, again, is the only viable option as far as we see it and I believe the rest of the international community.
Q Thank you, Christine. Let me go to a very disturbing story on Croatia. It appears, according to the article from the London Observer in today's Washington Times that the Holbrooke mission failed to convince Tudjman and the Government of Croatia to continue to allow the presence of U.N. troops. There are some very fearsome quotes in here from unidentified Croatian officials that war is imminent and that this is the way it's going to go; that it was going down and the U.N. is going out and war will come.
Are there any other initiatives in the pipes right now to persuade Tudjman to take another tact?
MS. SHELLY: I got this question yesterday, and I didn't have a lot to share except to rebut the notion that the mission by Assistant Secretary Holbrooke was a failure, as reported in the press. I was not able to give a lot of detail on that, and that's pretty much were I am today.
We believe that progress has been made on issues of concern to all sides on this. No final decisions have been reached, and we have every expectation that discussions on this will continue.
We have briefed members of the Contact Group on our discussions in Zagreb, and we're also consulting with the relevant parties, including the Serbs in Knin.
As I think you may have or surmised from some other reporting which is emanating from the region and also from U.N. sources, there are some indications that Croatian authorities have been discussing ideas related to a continued international presence there.
As I mentioned, we're consulting with the Contact Group members. We also will have some consultations in the U.N. Security Council on this within the next couple of days or so regarding what those possible options might be and what the next steps might also be.
I don't have other details to share at this point and certainly will share them with you when I'm in a position to do so.
Q You don't know at the present whether Mr. Holbrooke will return to Zagreb?
MS. SHELLY: Mr. Holbrooke at this point is up in New York City. He's due back in Washington later today, and that's about all I can tell you regarding his travel plans.
Q Was he briefing members of the Security Council on his trip?
MS. SHELLY: He was actually giving a speech, I believe, earlier this morning up in New York, and I think he was having a couple of other meetings. I don't have any specific information on meetings with Security Council members. I don't know whether he's doing that or not, but he had engagements in New York that involved both some private meetings and also some public speaking engagements and media activities that had been planned for quite some time.
So he was keeping that part of his program and, as I mentioned, he'll be back down, I think, either late tonight or first thing tomorrow morning.
Q Do you have any response to Senator Murkowski and 35 other Senators' letter calling for Li Teng-hui to be allowed entry into the United States to attend Cornell University's, I believe, graduation ceremonies?
MS. SHELLY: I got that question yesterday, and we put up a printed answer to that -- a full one -- in the Press Office late yesterday afternoon, probably fuller than you could imagine that we would put up.
Q Thank you.
(The briefing concluded at 1:20 p.m.)
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