Waziristan fighting intensifies

Government troops reportedly join the battle as Pakistani tribesmen fight Uzbeks.

    The remote mountains of south Waziristan have traditionally been a haven for rebel groups [AP]

    Yuldashev refused and Nazir's repeated calls for the Uzbeks to leave the area quickly provoked fighting between the Uzbeks and his own tribal followers.
     
    After the fighting began on Monday, Nazir's followers in the mosques in Wana urged people to join a war against the Uzbeks.
     
    "Most people are against them because they are the main source of security problems in our area," said one resident, who declined to be identified.
     
    Local people say up to 1,200 Uzbeks are in the region. Pashtuns refer to them as "gungas", meaning the dumb ones because they can't speak the Pashto language.
     
    Yuldashev, whose central Asian group has been linked to al-Qaeda, has been sentenced to death in absentia for a series bombings in Tashkent, the Uzbek capital.
     
    Army shelling
     
    The shelling near Wana, the main town in mountainous South Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan, was the military's first reported involvement in the violence.

     

    Pakistan's army has sought to delegate security duties to local tribes [GALLO/GETTY]

    "The military launched shells at foreign militants after munitions fired by militants landed near their camp in Wana," a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
    "They retaliated but there were no casualties on either side."
     
    Local residents said troops at the army compound fired at least 15 rounds this morning towards the Kalusha and Azam Warsak areas, the scenes of this week's militant-tribesmen battles.
     
    On Tuesday a Pakistani military spokesman, major-general Waheed Arshad, had said that the fighting between the Uzbeks and the tribesmen indicated the success of government attempts to oust groups related to al-Qaeda from the remote and lawless border region.
     
    "It's a success of the government tribesmen strategy ... the tribesmen are fed up with them because they and their activities adversely affect their lives and business," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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