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Homeland Security

Pakistan does not know whereabouts of Osama bin Laden

RIA Novosti

15/10/2007 17:02 ISLAMABAD, October 15 (RIA Novosti) - Pakistan has no information on where terrorist No. 1 Osama bin Laden, the head of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, is hiding, the chief spokesman of the Pakistani Army told RIA Novosti.

Major General Waheed Arshad admitted that many around the world claim bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan. "But we have not yet obtained any concrete information," he said.

Arshad rejected statements by a number of Afghan and Western politicians that Pakistan is failing to actively fight international terrorists hiding in the Pakistani tribal belt.

"We believe these accusations are nonsense. It is Pakistan that has done more than others to fight terrorists and al-Qaeda. Here are figures for you: we have killed or captured over 700 al-Qaeda members who moved here from Afghan territory," he said.

The general said Pakistan is doing its best to deter terrorists from moving from Afghanistan, but added that "the root of the problem is in Afghanistan."

Northwest Pakistan and in particular, Northern and Southern Waziristan, are virtual no-go areas for government forces. The mountainous region is the stronghold of fiercely independent Pashtun tribes, and it is believed to be a safe haven for hundreds of Taliban fighters from Afghanistan.

The Pakistani army deploys an 80,000-strong military contingent to clear the region of militants.

Arshad also said Uzbek, Tajik and Chechen nationals are among Islamists fighting against government forces in the tribal zone.

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