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Indonesia's Muslim fighters 'safe'

GPI protesters
The GPI is just one group that has held anti-American protests in Jakarta  

By Amy Chew

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- An Indonesian Muslim group whose members purportedly traveled to Afghanistan to fight against the United States has said all its fighters are safe and some 150 remain in Kandahar.

The Islamic Youth Movement (GPI) claims it sent 300 men to Afghanistan in response to the call of Taliban leaders to wage a jihad, or holy war, against the U.S.

"None of them have died. There are 150 of them in Kandahar and another 100 at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. They have now broken into groups of five to wage a guerrilla warfare. Some of them are with the Taliban, and some are fighting on their own," Suaib Dudi, chairman of GPI, told CNN.

Dudi said the remaining 50 volunteers had found their way to Pakistan.

Concerns over the fate of the 300 Indonesian volunteers were raised following reports of a massacre of Pakistanis and Arabs who fought alongside the Taliban by the Northern Alliance when they captured the strategic city of Mazar-e Sharif last week.

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The fundamentalist Taliban, who have lost most of Afghanistan in the past 10 days, are still holding out in the cities of Kunduz in the north and Kandahar in the south.

An Indonesian Foreign Ministry official said the government had no information about the volunteers' whereabouts and was trying to locate them.

"We don't know whether they arrived (in Afghanistan), this is what they claimed but we don't have any data of those persons," Wahid Supriyadi, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told CNN.

"We are now trying to locate them but we don't have anybody in Afghanistan, that is our difficulty," said Supriyadi.

No surrender

The government had earlier threatened to revoke the citizenship of Indonesians taking part in wars overseas, invoking the country's immigration law.

With a population of 210 million, Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country where the majority of its adherents are moderates.

Following U.S. airstrikes into Afghanistan, several radical Muslim groups have staged noisy, anti-American protests outside the U.S. embassy and threatened to expel Americans and other Westerners from the country. Those protests have since largely subsided.

GPI's Dudi said the volunteers do not want to surrender or to return home.

Indonesian student protesters
Young Indonesian students shout "Save Afghanistan" outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta  

"They are waiting for the United Nations peacekeeping force to arrive. They want to monitor the peace keepers, to see whether it is truly carrying out its mission as a neutral force," said Dudi.

Indonesia has expressed its willingness to participate in an international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.

Indonesia's top security minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said over the weekend that as the country with the largest Muslim community, it should accept a request to join an international peacekeeping mission as its "responsibility" of being part of the world community.

Yudhoyono said Indonesia had yet to receive an official request from the U.N. for troops.


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