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News Briefs II

ATF Allows Assault Weapons Into U.S., Irritates White House

The Washington Post

A federal agency issued permits allowing 150,000 assault weapons into the United States last month despite the fact that President Clinton was preparing to sign an order prohibiting the import of exactly those types of guns, administration officials said Thursday.

The action by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms triggered outrage at the White House, where aides fumed that it defied the will of the president. The Treasury Department and the ATF have launched an internal review to determine how the permits were issued and in the meantime have frozen any new permits pending action.

"I am upset that it happened," said Rahm Emanuel, senior adviser to Clinton handling the gun issue. "It's irritating while we're dealing with a problem and ATF and Treasury are in the room working with us on language that another 150,000 got approved."

Emanuel said he had no reason to believe it was intentional, yet neither he nor other officials could explain why the permits were allowed to go through at a time when an interagency review of the policy was underway.

"It should have been abundantly clear that that was not to be done while the review was going on," said a Treasury official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Americans Guard Against Further Retaliation in Pakistan

The Washington Post

Americans in the Pakistani port city of Karachi took extra precautions against possible anti-U.S. attacks Thursday, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif telephoned President Clinton to promise aggressive action to find the gunmen who killed four American oil company workers. The State Department warned Americans to postpone nonessential trips to Pakistan because "the security situation in Karachi deteriorated seriously" with Wednesday's ambush in rush-hour traffic that killed the four employees of Union Texas Petroleum Co. Two previously unknown groups separately took credit for killings.

But an official of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad indicated the claims are not considered credible. A third group, Harkat ul-Ansar blamed unnamed groups seeking to destabilize Pakistan.

Pakistani security officials have said members of Harkat ul-Ansar might have carried out the attack to avenge the conviction Monday of Mir Aimal Kasi, a Pakistani charged with the 1993 killings of two CIA employees. The travel advisory also cited the conviction in New York of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef - extradited from Pakistan in 1995 - in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.