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20 Dead in Latest Fighting Between Pakistani Tribesman, Foreign Militants


Pakistani security officials say 20 people have died in the latest fighting between government-backed tribesman and al-Qaida-linked militants in South Waziristan.

Reports say most of the dead are Uzbek fighters who were killed Friday after tribesman attacked key bunkers used by the militants in an area near Wana, the region's capital city.

Pakistan's military spokesman Major General Waheed told VOA in an interview that Pakistani troops have positioned themselves on mountain tops at Sheen Warsak in South Waziristan. However, he added that the troops are not directly involved in the fighting.

The Pakistani government recently made a deal with the region's tribal elders to expel the foreign fighters. This week, Pashtun tribal fighters demanded military support from the government

Since the fighting began last month, officials estimate that around 260 people, mostly Uzbeks, have been killed.

South Waziristan's pro-Taleban tribesmen previously had given refuge to the foreign militants, many of whom fled a U.S.-led offensive in Afghanistan in 2001. But they have since turned against one another over killings and other criminal activity.