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Pakistan Tells Foreign Fighters To Surrender

22 May 2004 -- Senior Pakistani military officials have repeated their demand that hundreds of Al-Qaeda-linked fighters near the Afghan border surrender to government authorities.

The military issued the statement after President Pervez Musharraf suggested that foreign fighters remaining in the border area must surrender or face elimination.

The statement said also Pakistani tribesmen protecting the militants will be dealt with severely.

Authorities believe that 300-600 militants are in the Pakistani tribal area that borders Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's army filed a protest with the U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan over an alleged incursion by U.S. troops into a Pakistani tribal region.

The incursion reportedly occurred on 20 May at a remote village in northwestern Pakistan, where U.S. soldiers searched several homes for about three hours but returned to Afghanistan.

A Pakistani military spokesman, General Shaukat Sultan, said the army received an apology after filing the protest, much like what occurred following a similar brief incursion into Pakistan on 5 May.

In Washington, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told CNN television that any border crossing by U.S. troops into Pakistan would have been accidental.


Copyright (c) 2004. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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