Pakistan: No al-Qaida leader killed

Pakistan's military says that an "al-Qaida fighter" killed in an operation near the Afghan border was just a local intelligence operative and not the organisation’s spy chief.

    Thousands of terrified villagers fled the area during the siege

    Military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said on Tuesday that "Mr Abd Allah" was a top intelligence agent in South Waziristan.

    Sultan at a news conference on Monday said Pakistan’s army killed a top al-Qaida intelligence chief.

    Sultan still refused to answer questions on whether the military recovered Abd Allah's body, saying he has no details about the full name, nationality and identity of the man.

    Pakistan on Sunday wound up a 12-day bloody siege by some 7500 troops against an estimated 500 fighters and tribal allies suspected of being linked to al-Qaida near the South Waziristan town of Wana some 20km from the Afghan border.

    Unprecedented army toll

    Some 63 fighters were killed. Another 166 fighters including 93 Pakistani tribesmen and 73 foreigners were captured, Sultan said on Monday.

    Among them were Afghans, Arabs, Chechens, Uighurs from China and Uzbeks, the military said.

    The operation was the largest by Pakistani forces in the semi-autonomous tribal zone, which troops entered for the first time in early 2002 to seal the border against fleeing al-Qaida and Taliban fighters.

    At least 46 soldiers were killed and 26 wounded, Sultan said, Pakistan's worst toll in its two-year hunt for al-Qaida fighters in a strengthening alliance with the US.

    Other security sources put the army toll as high as 62, which included paramilitaries and those killed in ambushes.

    SOURCE: AFP


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