Uzbek fighters killed in Pakistan

Tribesmen launch offensive to drive foreign fighters out of South Waziristan.

    Tribal leaders assembled an army of 1,500 fighters to force out foreign fighters from their lands [File: AFP] 

    An intelligence official told Reuters that the tribesmen had captured the fighters' base in a village near Wana, the main town in South Waziristan.

    Thousands of foreign fighters fled to the semi-autonomous tribal lands on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan after US-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001.

    They were given refuge by a number of Pashtun tribes that straddle the border, but relations between the foreigners and some of the tribesmen broke down last month when fighting erupted after a pro-government tribal leader was killed.

    Tribesmen beating war drums for the first time in three years summoned 1,500 volunteers to form an army, known as a lashkar, in Wana on Tuesday.

    In tribal tradition the beating of the drum announces a danger or emergency.

    The army vowed to force the foreign fighters from the tribal lands and punish any Pakistanis sheltering them.

    Government officials say that more than 200 people have been killed, most of them Uzbek fighters, since early last month.

    Residents say up to 1,200 Uzbek fighters are in the region, most from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commanded by Tahir Yuldashev. 

    Pakistani authorities have reached pacts with tribesmen in several areas near the border in the hope of driving a wedge between them and the foreign fighters.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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