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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 12:49 GMT
Pakistan pays tribe al-Qaeda debt
Tribesmen in South Waziristan
The army believes some tribes have been supporting al-Qaeda
Pakistan says it has paid 32m rupees ($540,000) to help four former wanted tribal militants in South Waziristan settle debts with al-Qaeda.

Military operations chief in the region, Lt Gen Safdar Hussain, said the payments were part of a peace deal signed on Monday with tribesmen.

It is the first time Pakistan has admitted making such payments.

Also on Wednesday, wanted militant Abdullah Mehsud rejected Monday's peace deal signed by others in his tribe.

Offer rejected

Gen Hussain said four former wanted militants had insisted they needed the money to pay back huge sums to al-Qaeda.

Haji Sharif and Maulvi Abbas received 15m rupees each, while Maulvi Javed and Haji Mohammad Omar were each paid one million rupees.

Gen Hussain said a sum of 20m rupees was also offered to tribal leader, Baitullah Mehsud, who signed the peace deal, but that he rejected it.

The commander said the militants had initially sought 170m rupees.

The peace deal offers an amnesty in return for the tribe's pledge not to support al-Qaeda and Taleban militants or attack government installations.

Embarrassing incident

However, on Wednesday tribal militant Abdullah Mehsud, wanted for kidnapping two Chinese engineers last year, told the BBC he did not support the deal signed by Baitullah Mehsud.

Abdullah Mehsud said only a holy war would evict "US agents" from Pakistan.

Militant commander, Abdullah Mehsud
My people are not responsible for the killing of the two journalists
Abdullah Mehsud

Speaking to the BBC's Haroon Rashid in Peshawar by phone from an undisclosed location, he said: "Baitullah's thinking might be that he can achieve his aims by signing the peace agreement, while mine is that only a holy war against the US and Pakistani government could achieve this."

Abdullah Mehsud spent about two years in US custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before being released.

He fought for the Taleban in Afghanistan, losing a leg in a landmine explosion a few days before the Taleban took Kabul in September 1996.

He is wanted for masterminding the abduction of two Chinese engineers in South Waziristan last year, one of whom was killed in a rescue attempt.

The incident was highly embarrassing for the Pakistani government, which has close ties with Beijing.

Abdullah Mehsud, condemning those who appealed to China to grant him amnesty, accused Beijing of killing Muslims.

The Mehsud tribe is the dominant clan in the Afghan border region.

Shortly after Monday's accord, two journalists who attended the signing were killed when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in Wana.

Abdullah Mehsud said on Wednesday: "My people are not responsible for the killing of the two journalists."

Pakistan believes hundreds of militants, including Arabs, Afghans and Central Asians, are holed up in the South Waziristan region.

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