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Afghanistan says Pakistan Tribal Factions Sheltering Fugitive Taleban - 2002-03-17


The Afghan defense ministry is accusing Pakistani tribal factions of sheltering fugitive Taleban leaders and al-Qaida fighters in unsecured border regions.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Saranwal Mir Jan told the Associated Press Sunday Afghan officials know that Pakistani tribal faction are helping the Taleban in areas where government control is weak. Traditional tribal leaders still rule much of this region.

Mr. Jan said the interim Afghan government is urgently setting up border patrols to stop Taleban and al-Qaida members from traveling freely back and forth across the border.

He said the end of Taleban rule in Afghanistan did not change close ties between the Taleban, Pakistani tribal leaders and clerics -- all of whom share religious, cultural, and ethnic bonds.

Pakistan has not yet responded to the charges. But it has sent troops to parts of its border with Afghanistan to apprehend any fleeing terrorists. Pakistani leaders have said they will not tolerate fugitives on their soil.

Afghan officials suspect many Taleban and al-Qaida fighters fled to Pakistan after U-S and allied forces took control of the Shah-e-Kot valley in eastern Afghanistan last week.

U-S commanders say there has been little military action in the region over the last few days. Soldiers are looking for the last of the enemy fighters hiding in mountain caves.

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