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Key Pakistani Tribe Signs Peace Deal with Government

Leaders of a key tribe in northwestern Pakistan have signed a peace deal with the government, agreeing to stop sheltering foreign militants in a region that is believed to have a large al-Qaida presence.

Pakistani officials and leaders of the Mamond tribe signed the 28-point agreement in the Bajaur tribal region, where six months of intense fighting between government troops and Islamic militants came to a halt a few weeks ago.

The Mamond tribe is the largest in the region, and its members include most of the local Taliban leadership. Its leaders pledged to disband any armed groups in Bajaur and ensure that local militants lay down their weapons.

Under the deal, officials said local Taliban leaders, including commander Faqir Muhammad and spokesman Maulvi Omar, will surrender to tribal authorities (jirga) and will be allowed to return to their villages to live.

The tribe also promised to stop harboring foreign fighters and keep them from crossing the Afghan border.

The agreement also bans attacking government officials or security forces, displaying heavy weapons and broadcasting anti-government propaganda messages, including broadcasts on Taliban-run clandestine radio stations.

The deal said the government can punish the tribal leaders with fines or other penalties if the tribe's members fail to stop fighting.

Pakistani authorities have previously signed similar pacts with local leaders in the restive tribal area near the border with Afghanistan, but they have generally fallen apart fairly quickly.

The local Taliban leader in Bajaur, Faqir Mohammad, declared a unilateral cease-fire late last month. Less than a week later, a Pakistani military commander said government troops had defeated militants in Bajaur after a six-month offensive, and now controlled the region.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.