Pakistan kills 12 al Qaeda
Pakistani troops are engaged in a major operation to capture suspected al-Qaeda fugitives near the border with Afghanistan. Reports say up to 12 al-Qaeda suspects have been killed in a prolonged gun battle in the district of South Waziristan. The rugged tribal area borders on the Afghan province of Paktika, which has become a centre for ousted Taliban fighters. The present security operation began hours before a senior American official, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, was expected in Pakistan. But his trip has now been rescheduled for unspecified reasons.
"We'll see if we have something to talk about in a week or two..."
Hundreds of Pakistani troops are believed to be involved in what is being described as one of the biggest ground operations against al-Qaeda remnants in more than a year. The Pakistani army began the operation "upon the receipt of credible intelligence about the presence of al-Qaeda elements", an army statement released on Thursday said. The army says troops have surrounded the entire area, making it extremely difficult for the al-Qaeda fighters to escape. A reporter at the scene for the Associated Press news agency said he saw the bodies of four suspected militants and that the army said eight more bodies were close by. Major General Ameer Faisal said: "Al-Qaeda people have taken refuge in these five big compounds. We do not know how many people are hiding there."
Posted by: Paul Moloney 2003-10-02