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Militants threaten attacks in Pak's Waziristan

Written by: Staff
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Miranshah (Pakistan), July 17: Pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan's North Waziristan region on the Afghan border have vowed to launch attacks on Pakistani forces after scrapping a 10-month-old peace deal with the government.

The government is trying to save the pact, which critics, including some US officials, said gave Taliban and al Qaeda militants a free hand to plot attacks in Afghanistan and beyond.

The collapse of the North Waziristan deal comes amid a surge of violence in northwest Pakistan. About 100 people, most of them members of security forces, have been killed since July 3, when troops surrounded a radical mosque in Islamabad.

The North Waziristan agreement, signed in September, was aimed at stopping cross-border militant raids into Afghanistan and attacks on Pakistani security forces.

The militants announced on Sunday they were pulling out of the deal after accusing the government of violating it by deploying more troops in North Waziristan and launching attacks.

''We will launch guerrilla attacks on the security forces,'' militant spokesman Abdullah Farhad said by telephone late yesterday from an undisclosed location.

Residents said militants blew up two police checkpoints on the outskirts of North Waziristan's main town of Miranshah yesterday night but caused no casualties.

The militants are demanding the removal of army checkposts and the payment of compensation for losses incurred during fighting in 2005 and 2006.

Farhad said the militants would not attack army checkposts in built-up areas to avoid civilian casualties but would only open talks if their demands were met.

TRYING TO TALK

Grappling with a wave of attacks elsewhere in the northwest, the government is trying to salvage a deal that did lead to a sharp fall in attacks on security forces in North Waziristan, after hundreds of people were killed there earlier.

Ali Mohammad Jan Orakzai, the governor of North West Frontier Province and the architect of the pact, had sent a delegation of tribal elders and clerics to talk to the militants.

''The delegation is trying to establish contacts with the Taliban,'' a provincial official said.

Thousands of Taliban and al Qaeda militants fled to North Waziristan and other lawless Pakistani border regions after U.S.-backed forces defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.

Pakistan defended the deal, saying it was aimed at empowering leaders of ethnic Pashtun tribes and isolating the foreign militants sheltering among them.

But US military officials in Afghanistan said the pact failed to stop raids from North Waziristan into Afghanistan.

The US president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said on Sunday the United States was fully backing a Pakistani crackdown on hotbeds of al Qaeda and Taliban activity and wanted Pakistan to do more.

Hadley, in interviews with US television channels, said the North Waziristan pact had not worked and Taliban havens were a threat to Pakistan and the United States.

''There is pooling of Taliban there. There is training, and there are operations,'' he said on Fox News.

He said Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's government had taken action against the militants but it was not adequate.

''We are urging him to do more and we are providing our full support to what he's contemplating,'' Hadley told CNN.

REUTERS

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