"There is now peace in the area," said Maulana Faizullah, a tribal leader who was involved in the negotiations.

 

"The Taliban will not attack security forces unless they are attacked."

 

Fighting in North Waziristan, and violence in other parts of northwest Pakistan, has intensified sharply since July when a nine-month pact broke down and commandos stormed a mosque complex in Islamabad supported by fighters from Waziristan.


Withdrawal started

 

A local intelligence official said security forces began withdrawing on Tuesday from five checkpoints between Mir Ali and Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan region.

 

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He also said a curfew imposed in Mir Ali on October 8 had been lifted.

 

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to comment on the record.

 

North and South Waziristan are hotbeds of support for Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, many of whom fled to the area after US-backed forces ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.
   

Clashes' genesis

 

The clashes in North Waziristan intensified last week when armed groups ambushed a military convoy near Mir Ali, and the casualties mounted as the army struck back using ground troops.   

       

Armed groups in South Waziristan are holding about 225 troops they captured at the end of August.

 

Fiercely independent ethnic Pashtun tribes in the area have never come under the authority of the central government, which adopted a system of autonomy for the rugged border lands from British colonial rulers.