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SLUG: 2-291428 Pakistan / Terrorism
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DAT=06/26/02

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

NUMBER=2-291428

TITLE=PAKISTAN / TERRORISM / S-L-COMBO

BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE

DATELINE=ISLAMABAD

CONTENT=

VOICE AT:

INTRO: Pakistan military authorities say ten of their soldiers were killed

Wednesday, in a gun battle with suspected al-Qaida fighters, in

tribal areas, near the Afghan border. At least two Pakistan military

officers and a number of al-Qaida fighters are reported to have been killed in

the incident. V-O-A's Jim Teeple has details from our Islamabad Bureau.

TEXT: An official military statement says the gun-battle took place

near Wana, about 300 kilometers west of Islamabad and ten

kilometers from the Afghanistan border. The statement says Pakistan

troops were attacked when they began searching houses in the area where

al-Qaida fighters were believed to be hiding.

Wana is the capital of the South Waziristan tribal area, which borders Afghanistan.

U-S communications experts are helping Pakistan troops in their

operations, but officials in Islamabad say no U-S combat forces were involved in

Wednesday's incident. The battle marked the first time Pakistan troops have died fighting in the area.

Several al-Qaida fighters -- including a Chechen national -- were

reported to have been captured in the incident. Following Wednesday's fighting, Pakistan forces launched a major operation to search for any remaining attackers.

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U-S and British troops have been carrying out search operations

against al-Qaida and Taleban fighters for months, on the Afghan side of

Pakistan's tribal areas. So far, most military operations in the region have

resulted in the recovery of large quantities of weapons and explosives, but

there have been few large-scale military encounters.

U-S and British troops in the area have come under occasional rocket

and small-arms fire but, so far, American and British soldiers have suffered no

casualties. Pakistan officials say, since December, they have

arrested more than 300 suspected al-Qaida and Taleban fighters who had crossed into

Pakistan territory from Afghanistan. (Signed)

neb/jlt/wd



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