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Last Updated: Monday, 25 July, 2005, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Al-Qaeda 'destroyed in Pakistan'
Troops in South Waziristan, Pakistan
Pakistan says its troops have al-Qaeda on the run
Pakistan has destroyed al-Qaeda's ability to operate on its soil, President Pervez Musharraf has said.

He said the network could not have orchestrated deadly bombings in London, Egypt or elsewhere from his country.

"Al-Qaeda does not exist in Pakistan any more," he told reporters in Lahore, after unconfirmed reports Pakistanis were being sought over bombs in Egypt.

Police in Egypt are not linking the missing men to Friday's Sharm al-Sheikh bombings, in which more than 60 died.

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President Musharraf said al-Qaeda "sanctuaries" in Pakistan had been over-run, and that Pakistani security forces had arrested 700 of the movement's fighters.

'Wrong'

He said small groups of al-Qaeda members may still be operating in the mountainous tribal regions of Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, but their capacity to act was greatly reduced.

As far as the government of Egypt is concerned it has not got in touch with us
Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Muhammad Naeem Khan

"We have shattered and eliminated their command system there," he said. Al-Qaeda's communications system had been reduced to a "courier network".

"Is it possible in this situation that an al-Qaeda man sitting here, no matter who he is, may control things in London, Sharm al-Sheikh, Istanbul or Africa? This is absolutely wrong," the president said.

Earlier in the day, Arabic television stations said police had distributed photographs of two of six Pakistanis who had disappeared from a hotel in Cairo earlier this month.

It appears, however, that Pakistanis were being sought even before the bomb attacks and the Egyptian interior ministry has not confirmed that there is a connection between them and the Sharm al-Sheikh bombings.

Pakistan's foreign ministry has said it doubts that Pakistanis had anything to do with the Egyptian attacks.

A spokesman said the government had not been officially informed by Egypt about the missing Pakistani nationals or of their possible link to the Sharm al-Sheikh attacks.

London pressure

Thousands of Pakistani troops have been deployed in Waziristan since Gen Musharraf's decision to back the US war on terror in 2001.

Despite the troop presence, there are almost daily complaints from Afghanistan of cross-border militant incursions onto its territory.

There have been several high-profile arrests of suspected al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, most of them from cities, not the border region.

Pakistan came under renewed pressure to act against militants and religious extremists following the 7 July bomb attacks in London.

It emerged that two of the four suicide bombers, both Britons of Pakistani descent, flew into Karachi last year.

What they did for three months has not been established but security officials want to know if they met militants or attended religious schools where they might have been radicalised.

Last week, Gen Musharraf defended a recently launched crackdown against extremists but also said Britain must do more to tackle its own militancy threat.

On Monday, he promised that those arrested for publishing hate material or misusing mosque loudspeakers would be tried in anti-terrorism courts.




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