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ISLAMIC STATES ASK U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL TO INVESTIGATE U.S. ATTACK ON SUDAN

UNITED NATIONS -- Islamic states at the United Nations on Sunday backed Sudan's demand for an urgent Security Council meeting and a U.N. inquiry into the American attack that destroyed a pharmaceutical factory near Khartoum.

But the League of Arab States, in a formal letter to the Security Council, did not call for any specific action except for the United States to "refrain from such acts which constitute violations of national sovereignty." It said the U.S. missile attack Thursday was a "blatant violation" of international law.

Meanwhile, in Washington, U.S. officials said Sunday that the United States is assessing the damage inflicted on the alleged terrorist network of Saudi exile Osama bin Laden in last week's attack and that more strikes are possible.

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright told ABC's "This Week" that Thursday's U.S. missile attack on suspected terrorist bases in Afghanistan had hurt bin Laden's suspected ability to conduct a terrorist campaign against Americans. She and Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said U.S. officials were assessing the damage from the attacks against suspected camps in Afghanistan and the pharmaceutical factory in Sudan that the United States said was also making components for chemical weapons.

However, the Islamic group of countries at the United Nations, in a letter signed by Qatar, their chairman, said members "unanimously decided to endorse the request" from Sudan for an urgent meeting as well as a fact-finding mission to investigate the charges that the plant manufactured agents for chemical weapons rather than medicines.

Council President Danilo Turk of Slovenia said the issue would be considered at an informal, closed-door meeting today. But with the United States a permanent member of the 15-seat council, diplomats said they did not expect the body to take any immediate action.

U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson, in a letter to the council late Thursday, defended the missile attacks on targets in Afghanistan and Sudan as legitimate self-defense under the U.N. Charter.

He said Washington had obtained information that the organization of bin Laden was responsible for the Aug. 7 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. "In particular, U.S. forces struck a facility being used to produce chemical weapons in Sudan and terrorist training and basing camps in Afghanistan," he said.

None of the letters from Sudan, the Arab League or the Islamic states mentioned the attack against Afghanistan. Nations are divided in support for the country's Taliban rulers. Afghanistan is represented at the United Nations by the previous anti-Taliban government.

Sudan's letter said, in part, "Lying has become a characteristic feature of the United States administration, but it has overstepped the limits by threatening world peace and targeting innocent people both in the developing countries and other countries, which is an affront to the human conscience," said the letter by Gobrial Roric, state secretary in the Sudanese Foreign Ministry.

Sudan says the El-Shifa factory, north of the capital Khartoum, made antibiotics for children, anti-malaria drugs and other pharmaceuticals for veterinary purposes.

Pakistan is lodging a complaint with the U.N. Security Council after a U.S. missile aimed at neighboring Afghanistan landed by mistake on its territory, the Foreign Ministry said today.

The discovery of an unexploded missile over the weekend supported Pakistan's claim that the United States violated its airspace, a ministry statement said.

Local officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the missile was found in a remote area Sunday and handed over to the military the same day, four days after U.S. missiles struck a suspected militant training camp in neighboring Afghanistan. They said it fell in Kharan, 380 miles south of the U.S. target near Khost, Afghanistan.

"The government of Pakistan had informed us about this, and we are looking into it," U.S. Embassy spokesman Richard Hoagland said.

Pakistan had protested the presumed violation of its airspace in the U.S. attack and said earlier that a missile had mistakenly fallen in Pakistan and killed several people. The government fired its intelligence chief, Manzoor Ahmed, for passing on that false report to the prime minister.

Meanwhile, the Cuban government condemned Sunday the U.S. airstrikes as an "arbitrary and abusive" use of Washington's military might which could provoke a cycle of violence.

Indian Interior Minister Lal Krishna Advani said Sunday that U.S. missile strikes confirmed Indian fears that Afghanistan was being used as a base to train Kashmiri separatists.

"This only confirms what we have apprehended, suspected that they are being trained there," Advani told reporters in the northwestern Indian city of Jaipur.

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