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US jets kill 24 Taliban on Pak soil
16. July 2005, 10:27

By Behroz Khan
PESHAWAR (The News) - Twenty-four suspected Taliban fighters were killed in a missile attack by US planes near the Pak-Afghan border in North Waziristan Agency and the Pakistan Army troops have recovered bodies of the killed persons, official sources said here Friday.

Sources in the Pakistani security forces and locals said the Taliban fighters were chased by US planes after a missile attack on a base of the Afghan and US forces in Paktika province of Afghanistan by the anti-coalition groups on the night between Thursday and Friday. No details about the loss to human life or damage to property on the Afghan side could be ascertained.

"The coalition forces had launched a major operation in Paktika province and those fleeing the area were chased and killed on the Pakistani side of the border," Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan told media in Islamabad.

Tribesmen and the security forces sources said the Taliban fighters had targeted the Pipali military base, some three kilometres inside the Afghan territory in Paktika, and then fled to the Pakistani side of the border, but were chased and killed.

On the other side, the ISPR spokesman said the Pakistan Army has also launched a major search operation against suspected terrorists and supporters of Taliban in the Lowara Mandi area of North Waziristan Agency.

Locals said hundreds of the Pakistan Army soldiers and scouts were engaged in the operation since 12 noon Friday, which also coincided with expiry of the deadline given to the tribesmen for handing over the wanted persons to the government. The deadline expired without any new development, which prompted the security forces to launch a manhunt in the border area, where about two weeks ago a soldier of the Pakistan Army was killed and four others were injured when the suspected terrorists opened fire on their vehicle.

The Pakistan Army had set Friday noon deadline asking the tribesmen either to hand over the killers of the soldier and an informer of secret services along with the suspected al-Qaeda elements taking shelter in the tribal belt or face the search operation.

The search operation launched by the Pakistani security forces continued till filing of this report and seven persons were arrested during search of houses in three villages and surroundings. Locals and official sources said that search operation was conducted in Sher Pai, Angharkai and Sarha Toi villages and seven suspected foreigners were rounded up. The arrested persons were shifted to an undisclosed location by a military helicopter for interrogation. The identity of the arrested persons could not be ascertained.

The ISPR spokesman said the Pakistani authorities have taken bodies of 24 Taliban fighters into custody. The entire area close to the Pak-Afghan border, locals said, has been cordoned off and nobody was allowed to go there. The tribal people and some Taliban sources said that 20 missiles were fired at the Pipali military base the previous night that prompted retaliation by US forces resulting in killing of the suspected fighters.

The Pakistani and US forces, the officials said, were in contact with each other about the emerging situation before and after the operation and killing of the fleeing fighters. This is for the first time Pakistan has admitted that US planes targeted the fleeing Taliban inside its territory. The US forces stationed in Afghanistan’s border areas and its warplanes have been blamed several times for crossing over into Pakistani territory in the past.

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