Tribes given 3 days to hand over suspects
By Ismail Khan
PESHAWAR, Oct 3: Authorities in the semi-autonomous South
Waziristan tribal region are being given a three-day deadline to
tribes, calling on them to surrender Al Qaeda suspects and take
punitive action against anyone harbouring terrorists.
"We are going to give (these) tribes three days to produce Al Qaeda
militants and take punitive action against those who harbour or
shelter terrorists", Azam Khan, Political Agent of the tribal
region bordering Afghanistan told Dawn.
These tribes, he said, had signed an affidavit in May, denying the
presence of Al Qaeda suspects in their respective territories,
adding that they (tribes) had agreed not to give shelter to any Al-
Qaeda operative, facilitate authorities to search houses in case of
any information, demolish houses of those sheltering Al-Qaeda
suspects, banish them from their tribe besides imposing on them a
fine of Rs500,000.
"We are now asking them to honour their agreement", he said on
telephone from Wana.
These written notices are also being served on the Qarikhel-
Zalikhel tribe three of whose tribesmen were found to have given
shelter to the Al Qaeda suspects, who were captured and killed
during Operation Al Mizan in the Baghar village on Thursday. "We
are asking them to surrender the three tribesmen."
Similar notices are also being served on Tojikhel, Gangikhel and
Khojalkhel Ahmadzai Wazir tribes inhabiting the Angor Adda and the
adjoining Barmal area.
Angor Adda lies on the Pak-Afghan border that has come under US
bombing in recent days. The US has a small base just across the
border at Shkin which has also come under attack from suspected
Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.
"We are going to make it plain to them that the government means
business. We are going to crackdown on tribes not coming clean on
the agreement," the political agent said. He said that the
government had information that some tribesmen were sheltering Al
Qaeda militants. "We have identified them and we are going to ask
them to hand them over."
The political agent said tribesmen rounded up on charges of
sheltering or harbouring foreign militants would be handed over to
the Joint Interrogation Team for clearance.
The latest action came as the authorities began preliminary
interrogation of the 18 Al Qaeda suspects captured in a day-long
battle with Pakistani forces on Thursday.
"We are going to determine who they are and where are they from," a
security official told Dawn here on Friday.
Suspects have been moved out of the tribal area to an undisclosed
location, the official said.
He said that preliminary interrogation revealed that the suspects
were from different countries. "There are different nationalities",
the official said. There were Chechens, Uzbeks, an Algerian and
some Arab-speaking nationals, he said.
Among the captured were some Afghans as well, he said. "There is
still some confusion."
He said that the matter was being handled by the Pakistan Army and
it was not yet clear whether they would be turned over to the Joint
He said that investigators were also trying to determine the
nationalities of eight Al-Qaeda suspects killed during the
operation. "Pictures of those killed in action will be shown to the
captives to determine their identities and nationalities", the
Eight Al Qaeda suspects were killed along with two Pakistani
soldiers and 18 others were captured alive in an operation in the
South Waziristan tribal region.
An ISPR spokesman said the Inter-Services Intelligence had detected
the group crossing back and forth the Pak-Afghan border about five
kilometres from Baghar, a small village of 50 to 60 houses.
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