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Al-Qaida Figures May Have Escaped Through Tunnel - 2004-03-22


A security commander in northwest Pakistan says troops near the border with Afghanistan have found a two-kilometer tunnel through which top al-Qaida terrorist-suspects may have escaped. He said the tunnel runs between the home of two wanted tribesmen, and from there to a stream near the border.

Early Monday, Pakistani troops ceased firing in observance of a truce so that local tribesmen could try to negotiate an end to the fighting, which last week took an increasing toll of civilian lives.

Pakistani officials believe local tribesmen are harboring al-Qaida suspects in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan. They demand that the suspects and those harboring them be turned over to authorities and that any hostages be freed.

Last week, the authorities said they believed a prominent al-Qaida figure was one of those being protected in Wana.

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