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Authorities, Tribal Leaders Sign Peace Pact in Northwest Pakistan

Authorities and tribal leaders in northwest Pakistan have reached a peace agreement, after a two-week military operation to clear militants from the area.

Administrators in the Khyber tribal region Wednesday said tribal elders, mediating on behalf of militant leader Mangal Bagh, pledged to stop attacks and not challenge government control of the area.

Pakistani paramilitary forces began an offensive against Bagh and his supporters (Lashkar-e-Islam) on June 28, after they threatened Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province, as well as a key road used as a supply route for U.S. and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistan's new government initiated low-level talks with pro-Taliban militants after taking power earlier this year.

Elsewhere in North West Frontier Province, Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas says government troops have been sent to Doaba to disperse nearly 200 militants who have surrounded a police station. The militants are demanding the release of seven of their comrades.

Separately, nearly 2,000 female Islamic students demonstrated at the Red Mosque in Islamabad Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of a military raid there which left 100 people dead.

The group shouted anti-government slogans and called for the rebuilding of their seminary, destroyed during the army raid. They also demanded the release of detained cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, who was captured during last year's siege.

Leaders of the Red Mosque and the adjoining women's religious school had waged a violent campaign to impose strict Taliban-style law in Pakistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.