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Pakistan Rejects Fresh Reports of Al-Qaida Activity

Pakistan is sharply rejecting new U.S. reports that the terrorist group al-Qaida has reestablished training bases inside the country's remote tribal areas. From Islamabad, VOA correspondent Benjamin Sand says the new camps are reportedly preparing operatives for attacks on Western targets.

The allegations are the latest in a series of U.S. reports linking Pakistan to a resurgent al Qaida. U.S. officials in Pakistan and the United States say Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants have regained control over a vast worldwide Islamist terrorist network.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that al Qaida has established a new "operations hub" in Pakistan's remote North Waziristan tribal agency. U.S. intelligence officials have also reportedly identified several new compounds in the region, where terrorist operatives may be preparing attacks against Western targets.

Tuesday, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam angrily dismissed those reports.

"We reject these allegations. No such information has been given to us," she said. "Instead of making these allegations in the media, if there is some evidence, [it] should be shared with us."

Aslam says Pakistan, which is a key U.S. ally in the war on terror, maintains extremely close ties with American intelligence agencies.

When specific, actionable leads are passed along, she says Pakistan will do whatever it takes to help defeat al Qaida. Pakistan has 80,000 troops in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. Nevertheless there are growing concerns over the spread of militant influences and militant camps throughout the isolated region.

On Monday, the body of an Afghan refugee was found dumped along the side of the road - he had been executed in North Waziristan by militants who accused him of spying for the United States. Pakistani officials say the victim was beheaded - a fate suffered by several people the militants have accused of cooperating with either Islamabad government or the U.S.

In September, Pakistan signed a controversial peace agreement with militants operating in the area. Under that agreement, Pakistan withdrew its troops in exchange for local promises to end militant activity.

U.S. and Afghan officials say the deal effectively created a militant sanctuary along the Afghan border.

Supporters of the hard-line Islamist Taleban and al Qaida are said to operate in the region and attacks on NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan nearly doubled shortly after the deal was signed.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has defended the agreement but recently conceded the militants have failed to live up to their side of the bargain.