Military

Pak military: 2 `foreigners` killed, 8 arrested in operation

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, March 19, IRNA - At least two "foreigners", apparently 
Arab and Chechen, were killed as Pakistani troops used gunship 
helicopters and artillery on the fourth day of operations in 
tribal regions against al-Qaeda suspects and local tribesmen whom 
the government says have given shelter to suspected militants, 
a military spokesman said. 
Security forces swooped on an area near the town of Wana, 
300 kilometers west of the capital, Islamabad, near the Afghan 
border in a six-hour operation Tuesday, hunting for clues on the 
whereabouts of fugitive al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his 
top lieutenants. 
Spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan told a news conference 
in Rawalpindi that eight miscreants, including one injured, have 
been arrested and are being questioned. 
"We have got very useful information from the arrested men," 
Sultan said, giving no further details. 
He did not confirm reports that Ayman al-Zawahiri has been 
surrounded in South Waziristan but said the stiff resistance show 
that some "high level target" is hiding there. 
"All routes have been closed and no militant can flee," the 
general said adding that some of them tried to escape but firing 
by the Pakistani forces foiled their attempt. 
He said the operation in Wana is continuing with the exchange 
of small to heavy arms fire. 
According to the spokesman, the intelligence gathered 
indicated that 300 to 400 terrorist suspects are in about seven 
targets in South Waziristan Agency. 
He said army and para-military soldiers have cordoned off 
about 50 kilometer area so that no one could escape while two 
attempts were made by the terrorists to run away. 
"During the encounters, two terrorists including one foreigner 
were killed. Four others, one of them a foreigner, have been 
apprehended while nine returned back to their hideouts in the 
area," he told reporters. 
Major-General Sultan also said that the security forces 
recovered huge catche of arms and a mobile phone from the dead and 
captured persons. 
About the type of battle going on, he said normally guerrillas 
avoid pitched battle, but in this case since they have been 
surrounded, they are using small arms, and fire rockets and 
rocket propelled grenades. 
"So far there is no close fighting." 
He said the distance between the terrorists and the security 
forces, where small arms are being used is about half a kilometer 
and where heavy weapons are being used is longer. 
He said the security forces would try to overcome the resistance 
with minimum use of force and capture maximum people alive. 
However, he said, if it comes to using more force, "we have that 
capacity". 
The military spokesman said the army has not got confirmation 
about the presence of high value target, but the type of resistance 
and preparation of fortresses indicate that there could be some high 
value target there. 
Answering a question he said, "We have not captured any 
relatively of high value target." 
The women and children who vacated the area were properly 
searched and it was ensured that no terrorist would escape, he 
added. 
In response to another question, he said there are no American 
troops on the ground on Pakistani side of the border. 
"Few American personnel are assisting Pakistan in technical 
intelligence," he noted. 
TK/TSH/213 
End 



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