SLUG: 2-291428 Pakistan / Terrorism
TITLE=PAKISTAN / TERRORISM / S-L-COMBO
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)
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