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Pakistan Extends Surrender Deadline for Foreign Militants - 2004-05-01


Pakistan has extended by a week a deadline to surrender for hundreds of foreign militants believed hiding near the Afghan border.

Pakistani officials had given Taleban and al-Qaida-linked fighters until Friday to give themselves up and turn in their weapons in exchange for assurances they will not be handed over to another country.

Authorities said the amnesty is not open to Taleban and al-Qaida leaders.

However, none of the militants had taken up the offer by the Friday deadline, raising concerns of possible renewed violence.

Officials have warned the militants face military action if they do not surrender, but the government is reported to still prefer a political solution.

Last week, Pakistan granted five local tribesmen amnesty, although they were accused of harboring al-Qaida fugitives in the South Waziristan region.

The tribal belt in northeastern Pakistan bordering Afghanistan has been widely seen as a sanctuary for al-Qaida and Taleban fighters who launch attacks in eastern Afghanistan and then cross the border to escape U.S.-led military operations.

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