Two more Uzbek militants killed in Pakistan clash

January 15, 2008

WANA, Pakistan (AFP) -- Two more Uzbek militants have been killed and one arrested in Pakistan's tribal region where militants linked to Al-Qaeda are active, officials said Monday.

The body of one extremist was found near the Afghan border in South Waziristan and tribesmen shot dead another as they pursued a group of Uzbeks who had attacked the house of pro-government tribal elder on Sunday, they said.
Two Uzbek gunmen were killed in the earlier fighting around the house of local elder Khan Khannan in South Waziristan's Shakai town.
The attackers fled into the mountains leaving their dead in the area, the regional administration's senior official, Ayaz Mandokhel said.
After finding the third body Khannan's men from the Wazir tribe came under fire from another Uzbek militant who was hiding in a cave.
""On seeing them he opened fire and was killed in the ensuing clash,"" he said.
One Wazir tribesman was killed and another wounded in the gunbattle.
Khannan is a pro-government elder in Shakai area where gunmen have shot dead nine members of a tribal peace committee in recent days.
Committee chief Maulavi Nazir had been involved in bloody clashes with ethnic Uzbek militants who entered the rugged region after U.S. and Afghan forces ousted the Taleban regime from neighboring Afghanistan in 2001.
The Uzbek Islamists are allied to the Taleban militia, which is now waging an insurgency against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.
Officials said clashes in March last year, part of government efforts to purge the area of foreign militants, left scores of people dead, mostly Uzbeks.
The tribesmen blame the January 6 killings of peace committee members on local warlord Baitullah Mehsud, an alleged Al-Qaeda affiliate who is also suspected of supporting Uzbek extremists in the tribal belt.
Mehsud has also been accused by the Pakistani government of masterminding last month's assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, a charge he denies.
Pakistani troops late Wednesday killed up to 50 militants after around 300 of them tried to attack a fort in Ladha town of South Waziristan, the military said.
Military sources said the attackers were mainly followers of Mehsud.
Pakistan has deployed more than 90,000 troops to the tribal belt to combat Taleban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants.