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Saturday, 27 April, 2002, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
US forces 'join Pakistani raid'
Pakistani commandos
Pakistani paramilitary forces reportedly led the raid
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By Haroon Rashid
BBC correspondent in Peshawar
line

Reports from Pakistan's tribal area near the border with Afghanistan say US forces have joined Pakistani paramilitaries to hunt for suspected Taleban leaders.

Local people say more than 100 Pakistani paramilitary troops assisted by about 10 foreign soldiers raided a religious seminary set up by a former minister in Afghanistan's ousted Taleban government.

However, no arrests were made.

This is the first such report of a joint US-Pakistan operation to come out of the tribal area.

No comment

The seminary that was targeted lies near the Afghan border in Drapa Khel village, on the outskirts of Miran Shah, capital of the south Waziristan tribal agency.

A US soldier talks on radio as another looks on
Pakistan denies joint combat operations
A report by the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press agency (AIP) said US troops were searching for Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former Taleban tribal affairs minister and also a famous guerrilla commander who fought the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

No officials were available for comment in Peshawar, but Pakistan has in the past denied joint operations or the presence of US forces in the semi-autonomous tribal areas.

Local journalists say the operation continued for more than an hour but failed to find any suspects.

A local journalist, Rehmatullah, who visited the religious school on Saturday said doors and windows were broken during the raid.

He quoted witnesses as saying they saw 10-15 foreign soldiers accompanied by Pakistani troops arriving in helicopters.

Resentment

Local tribesmen have already expressed their resentment over the presence of US forces in their area.

A large gathering of tribesmen, armed with rockets and assault rifles, had asked people on Friday to take advantage of the huge reward money being offered by al-Qaeda to kill or capture American soldiers.

US officials are concerned that al-Qaeda and Taleban remnants from Afghanistan have been able to cross into Pakistan, despite the deployment of thousands of Pakistani troops in the semi-autonomous border tribal areas.

See also:

03 Apr 02 | Americas
'Key' al-Qaeda recruiter captured
18 Dec 01 | South Asia
US names al-Qaeda 'most wanted'
02 Apr 02 | South Asia
Profile: Abu Zubaydah
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