A published report says hundreds of members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network are living in Pakistan's cities and have cooperated with local militants in several recent attacks there.
Citing Pakistani security officials, the Washington Post says al-Qaida has been linked to the kidnapping and murder earlier this year of U-S journalist Daniel Pearl, a grenade attack in Islamabad in March that killed five people and a May bombing outside a Karachi hotel that killed 14.
Officials are quoted as saying al-Qaida operatives who fled Afghanistan have found refuge in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta. Their hosts are said to be Islamic militants who have joined forces with al-Qaida. This alliance is reported to be targeting Westerners in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Britain has launched a new military operation in eastern Afghanistan in an effort to prevent Taleban and al-Qaida fighters from re-entering Afghanistan from Pakistan,
Officials say the operation is also aimed at keeping al-Qaida and Taleban fighters from disrupting next month's grand council (Loya Jirga) meeting in Kabul.
On Thursday, coalition forces released 50 of the 55 Afghans they detained after a raid last Friday near Kandahar. U-S defense officials told reporters in Washington that those released could not be identified as part of al-Qaida or the Taleban.
Also Thursday, the Afghan Islamic Press reported that three rockets were fired at a coalition military base in eastern Paktia province -- making it the first such attack on the Gardez camp. Afghan officials said no one was hurt in the overnight attack. They said the rockets are believed to have been launched from the nearby Shah-e-Kot mountains.