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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Two Killed in Pakistan Tribal Region

MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan (AP)- Stray mortars hit several homes during fighting between pro-Taliban Islamic militants and security forces near the Afghan border, killing at least two Pakistani villagers and wounded four, officials and residents said Thursday.

Two security forces were also injured in the fighting, which began late Wednesday and ended just before dawn Thursday in the village of Hurmaz, about 15 miles southeast of Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region, said local resident Ahsan Ullah.

The attack was the latest bout of violence to rock the region, which hugs the Afghan border and where al-Qaida and Taliban-linked militants have been battling Pakistani troops for the past month.

An area security official confirmed that two villagers were killed and four wounded but said officials didn't know whether the militants suffered losses.

"Our forces returned fire after miscreants fired rockets and used other munition to target them. We don't know whose fire caused these civilian casualties," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Pakistan, a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, has deployed 80,000 troops in the country's tribal regions and launched a series of operations in an effort to flush out militants.

Officials say hundreds of members of
Afghanistan's former Taliban regime and al-Qaida militants are hiding in Pakistani tribal regions, a claim that most tribesmen deny.
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