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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Operation starts against Pak tribesmen who failed to hand over foreigners

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, May 29, IRNA -- Scores of tribesmen were taken into custody
in Pakistan`s semi-autonomous tribal belt on Saturday after their 
failure to offer any cooperation in the registration of foreign 
militants hiding there, reports from the area said. 
Hundreds of armed tribesmen in the South Waziristan region 
searched villages near the Afghan border in search of al-Qaeda 
suspects in recent days, but failed to arrest any of them. 
Tribesmen searched the small town of Azam Warsak, believed to be a
hiding place of foreign al-Qaeda militants, but said the search 
yielded nothing, and they will now concentrate on other areas. 
The militia was formed to cleanse the area of `unwanted elements`.
But Governor of Northwest Frontier Province Iftikhar Hussain Shah,
who visited the area Friday, sounded stern warning to the Ahmadzai 
Wazir tribesmen to show results in connection with the registration of
the illegal foreigners or be prepared for a government action. 
The governor during a jirga or council a day earlier also 
expressed his resentment over the inefficiency of the tribal lashkar 
or tribal army. 
The authorities had threatened to launch a fresh military 
offensive if the foreign fighters fail either to register or 
surrender. 
Correspondents in South Waziristan said that scores of Ahmadzai 
Wazir Tribe elders have been arrested by the local administration 
while raids were also conducted in different areas. 
The authorities also impounded several double-cabin pickups and 
other vehicles of the tribesmen. 
The tribal had stated the search for foreigners after strong 
pressure was put on them by the government to rid South Waziristan of 
foreign militants. 
President General Pervez Musharraf believes that some 600 foreign 
militants are hiding in South Waziristan. 
The operation comes as a prominent tribal leader alleged to have 
helped shelter the al-Qaeda suspects, Nek Mohammad, said that he would
not cooperate with efforts to capture them. Nek says that registration
of foreigners was not part of the agreement between tribesmen and the 
military last month, which brought months of fighting to an end. 
A major army operation in March left 100 troops and militants 
dead. 
He accused the Pakistani government of violating an agreement 
reached with him by forming the tribal force. 
Pakistan had offered an amnesty to foreign fighters -- allowing 
them to remain peacefully in the region if they renounced terrorism 
and registered with authorities. 
But the army says that between 300 and 400 al-Qaeda militants have
refused demands formally to register and obtain identification cards. 
They say this left them with no choice but to sanction the 
deployment of the militia. 
The unit is made up of 1,200 tribesmen who on Tuesday conducted 
door to door searches in villages near the Afghan border. Similar 
searches were conducted on Wednesday. 
AHM/TSH/2322/1432 



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