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Pak tribal elders back military`s anti-Taliban, al-Qaeda drive

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Jan 11, IRNA -- Tribal elders in Pakistan`s tribal area, 
bordering Afghanistan, where the Pakistan Army is busy in operation 
against Taliban and al-Qaeda suspects, reports from the area said. 
Hundreds of elders of Ahmed Zai Wazir tribe, in a traditional 
jirga (assembly) also announced to take action against those 
tribesmen, who shelter Taliban and al-Qaeda suspects. 
The jirga was also attended by member of the National Assembly, 
Maulana Abdul Malik, who belongs to the alliance of six-Islamic 
groups, the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal. 
All the tribes of Ahmed Zai tribe vowed not to shelter any member 
of Taliban and al-Qaeda in the area, local correspondents said. 
The assembly decided to take strict action against any foreigner 
found in the area. 
The elders will meet the local officials on Monday to declare 
their support to the military operation. 
Authorities in South Wazristan on Saturday set a 48-hour deadline 
for tribal leaders to surrender al-Qaeda suspects, or face military 
Brigadier Mehmood Shah, Secretary of the Tribal Areas, gave the 
deadline after addressing local tribal elders in South Waziristan on 
the fourth day of operation against al-Qaeda suspects. 
Reports from the area suggest that the three local tribesmen, who 
were believed to have sheltered foreign suspects, have fled to 
Afghanistan. There was no official or independent confirmation of the 
Authorities were looking for three tribesmen - Naik Mohammed, 
Sherdil, and Sharif Khan - believed to own the hideouts of the 
Reports said that the authorities have arrested some people in 
the area, who are suspected of giving shelter to foreigners. 
The authorities are determined to continue operation and to use 
various options to capture the suspects, Brigadier Mehmood Shah said. 
Reports say that the Pakistani forces are targeting three 
compounds in Kalosha, a tiny village near the town of Azam Warsak, 
where 15-20 foreign suspects are believed to have taken refuge. 
Four Pakistani soldiers were killed when a rocket hit their base 
camp Thursday in Wana, the capital of South Waziristan tribal region. 
Military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said the death had no 
links with the on-going operation. 
Reports suggest that American forces were conducting simultaneous 
operations on the Afghan side of the border. 
The area is just across the border from the Afghan province of 
Paktika, one of the main areas of Taliban resistance to US military 
Taliban militia have carried out several attacks and frequently 
launch rockets at US military bases in the area, with elements hiding 
across the border after the attacks. 
Afghan officials have alleged that Pakistan does not do enough to 
prevent attacks by Taliban and al-Qaeda men. Pakistan has said it is 
doing all it can to seal the porous border. 
It was at least the second major operation in South Waziristan in 
less than three months. 
On Oct 2 last year, eight al-Qaeda suspects were killed and 18 
others captured in fierce fighting with army troops. Two Pakistani 
soldiers also died. 
Pakistan is a key ally of the United States and has turned over 
more than 500 al-Qaeda suspects, including alleged No 3 Khalid Shaikh 
Mohammed, who was captured in March near the capital. 
Pakistan has denied involvement of foreign troops in the 

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