Pakistan: battle escalates for Waziristan

Pashtun tribesmen loyal to Pakistan’s government exchanged mortar and rocket fire with purported al-Qaeda militants in South Waziristan for a third day March 21, leaving at least 114 dead. Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said 84 Uzbek militants and 30 local tribesmen, including nine civilians, have been killed. Another 83 Uzbeks were captured by the tribal forces, he said. The fighting started after former Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, who the government says has come over to its side, ordered followers of Uzbek militant Tahir Yuldashev to disarm. (AFP, March 22)

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