Uzbek fighters killed in Waziristan

Clashes between pro-government and foreign fighters in Pakistan kill up to 30 people.

    Tribal leaders are said to be tired with the
    conditions that providing refuge has brought [AP]

    Fighting had previously broken out between the two groups on March 6. 
     
    The conflict came after the government tried to convince tribal elders to keep order and stop militant raids into Afghanistan.
     
    The tribesmen had been known for their tradition of providing sanctuary to those fighting against US-led forces in Afghanistan.

     

    Government security forces were not involved, Arshad said.

     

    Amid the fighting, three children were reportedly killed and about 20 more wounded when a stray mortar hit their school bus.

     

    Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Pakistan, said that the historical context of the clashes should not be overlooked.

     

    "It must be remembered that Uzbeks came to the area a few decades ago when the mujahidin were fighting against the Russians.

     

    "There have been inter-marriages, so the whole issue has become quite complex... For the first time, local tribes are now confronting some of these Uzbek militants."

     

    Tribal refuge

     

    Hundreds of foreign fighters, including Uzbeks, Chechens and Arabs, fled to the semi-autonomous tribal lands on the Pakistani side of the border after US-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2001.

     

    Most of the tribesmen, who inhabit both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border, have given refuge to the men despite government efforts to remove them.

     

    "The tribesmen are fed up with them [militants] because they and their activities adversely affect their lives and business"

    Pakistani Major-General Waheed Arshad

    The fighting this month indicates that, in at least one area, relations have broken down.

     

    Arshad said: "It's a success of the government strategy ... the tribesmen are fed up with them because they and their activities adversely affect their lives and business."

     

    An intelligence official in Wana said the Uzbek fighters had cut off a road to the west of the town and security forces would take action to clear it if they did not withdraw in 24 hours.

     
    Seventeen people, most of them Uzbeks, were killed in the March 6 battle that broke out after the men tried to kill a pro-government tribal leader.

     

    The cause of the latest fighting was not clear, but the tribal leader and his men had been demanding that the foreign militants lay down their arms, a security official in the area said.

     

    The militants have killed many people across the region over the past few years, including pro-government tribal leaders and people they accuse of spying for US forces in Afghanistan.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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