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37 killed in Pakistan suicide blasts
Troops moved into trouble zone
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

Two suicide bomb attacks and a land mine blast killed at least 22 persons including 12 security men and wounded 39 others today in Matta area near Mangora, capital of the former princely state Swat, in the NWFP.

Another deadly suicide attack in Dera Ismail Khan in the province killed 15 policemen and injured 45 others. Yesterday, a suicide bomber rammed his car into a convoy of army and para military Frontier Constabulary (FC) in North Waziristan killing 24 and injuring 39.

The three attacks were part of a string of violent events ostensibly triggered by the military operation against Lal Masjid in Islamabad that began on July 3 and culminated a week later leaving at least 103 militants, women and children dead. Eleven commandos involved in the operation were also killed.

In sync with the start of the operation in Islamabad, President Musharraf also moved troops in troubled areas in the NWFP including north Waziristan bordering Afghanistan and Swat amid reports that he has ordered a crackdown on extremists.

The build-up has led to apprehensions among militants and local residents in the province. A total of 23 violent incidents of suicide attacks and mine blasts have been reported during the week, killing about 70 soldiers and more than hundred policemen and civilians.

Provincial Chief Minister Akram Durrani today regretted the death of security men but strongly criticised the federal government for moving the army without permission from the provincial administration. Durrani said only the civilian authorities can call the army to aid the government control a law and order situation. This principle has been violated by the army.

He said that at the last meeting of the National Security Council, he had agreed that military presence in troubled areas may be strengthened but there was clear understanding that troops will remain confined to the cantonments and move only when requested by the civil administration. It was also agreed that they will not enter and reside in educational institutions as has been done in the past in tribal areas of Waziristan.

The Chief Minister said he had called a ‘jirga’ of the elders and religious leaders belonging to Swat tomorrow for restoring peace in the area but the army upstaged his effort by moving out of the barracks.

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Taliban scrap peace pact with Pak

Islamabad, July 15
Local Taliban militants on the Pak-Afghan border today announced the scrapping of a peace accord reached with the Pakistan government last year, days after the military operation in Lal Masjid in which scores of militants were killed.

The militants distributed leaflets announcing that the deal with the government to prevent foreign militants from settling down in the region as well as to prevent infiltration into Afghanistan had been scrapped.

“We are ending the agreement today,” the pamphlets distributed in Miranshah, capital of the North West Frontier Province, said.

The deal was struck last year and drew severe criticism from the US and NATO forces as well as Afghanistan saying that the tribal elders could not prevent incursions.

The Pakistan government while withdrawing troops from some of the areas defended it, saying that it had a better chance as it involved the world of local tribal elders. — PTI

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Laden’s deputy behind Lal Masjid bloodbath: Report

London, July 15
Ayman al-Zawahari, Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s deputy, secretly directed Islamic militants whose armed revolt at Lal Masjid in Islamabad ended last week with a bloodbath after the Pakistan army stormed it, a media report said today.

The troops who finally took control of the masjid discovered letters from al-Zawahari, The Sunday Times said, quoting senior intelligence officials.

They were written to Abdul Rashid Ghazi and Abdul Aziz, brothers who ran the masjid and adjacent madarsa.

Government sources said up to 18 foreign fighters, including Uzbeks, Egyptians and several Afghans, had arrived weeks before the final shootout and set up firing ranges to teach students, including children, how to handle weapons.

The Al-Qaida wanted to open a Pakistan front in its global campaign since President Pervez Musharraf sided with the US after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Diplomats were surprised by the speed with which the fugitive Zawahiri condemned the raid and called on Pakistanis to rise up against Musharraf.

The response to his appeal was equally swift.

Twenty-seven soldiers were killed when a suicide attacker struck a military convoy in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border yesterday.

At least 58 have been killed in bombings and shootings since the Lal Masjid crisis began 12 days ago.

This weekend street protests were organised by religious parties as the government dispatched thousands more soldiers to its troubled North West Frontier Province. — PTI

 





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