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Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Al-Qaeda 'fighters' killed in Pakistan
Pakistani paramilitary troops check vehicles in south Waziristan
Thousands of troops are scouring border areas
Pakistani police have shot dead four al-Qaeda suspects near the Afghan border, the authorities say.

The militants used a coach to smash their way through a roadblock near the town of Kohat, about 75 kilometres (40 miles) south-west of Peshawar, lobbing grenades out of the windows, police say.

Officers opened fire, killing all those on board, including the driver. An explosion then killed an officer trying to move a suspect's body.

The clash came as Pakistan's Government said it had evidence that al-Qaeda was behind recent deadly bombings and the kidnapping of US journalist Daniel Pearl in the southern city of Karachi.

Wednesday's incident comes just over a week after 10 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a gunfight with al-Qaeda suspects in a tribal area near Kohat which borders Afghanistan.


We're conducting an inquiry and it takes time to establish the real identities of the dead

Islamabad official
Local officials said they believed the men killed on Wednesday were part of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, and had been travelling from the tribal areas close to the Afghan border.

They said they were of Arab appearance, but their nationality was unknown.

Huge search

A government official in Islamabad said it had yet to be confirmed who the men were, or where they were from.


We know al-Qaeda was behind the attack on the US consulate

Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider
"We're conducting an inquiry and it takes time to establish the real identities of the dead," the official told the BBC.

Thousands of Pakistani troops and police have stepped up their search for al-Qaeda fighters since last week's shoot-out.

Two militants from Chechnya were killed in the encounter and a third captured, but more than 30 got away.

The army sent reinforcements to the area to try to find those who escaped, but it is not known if those killed in this latest incident were part of that group.

For the past seven months the Pakistani army has been trying to seal the border with Afghanistan and stop al-Qaeda and Taleban supporters from fleeing into the tribal areas where it is thought they have some support.

Bombing leads

Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider said the tribal leaders were co-operating with the government and knew the consequences of sheltering terrorists.

He added that Pakistan knew al-Qaeda was behind the 14 June blast outside the US consulate in Karachi, in which 12 Pakistanis died.

"We have credible information that al-Qaeda financed it," Mr Haider told reporters on Wednesday.

A car bomb a month earlier, on 8 May, killed 14 people near Karachi's Sheraton Hotel, 11 of them French.

"We know these elements killed [US journalist] Daniel Pearl and the French nationals," Mr Haider said.

He offered no further details.


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26 Jun 02 | South Asia
30 Jun 02 | South Asia
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14 Dec 01 | South Asia
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