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At Least 56 Killed In Pakistan Al-Qaeda Clashes --> Pakistan's government has little control over South Waziristan (file photo) (epa) March 30, 2007 -- Pakistani authorities say at least 56 people have been killed in a troubled tribal region near the Afghan border, when local Pashtun tribesmen clashed with foreign Al-Qaeda militants.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said 54 of those deaths are from fighting today near Wana in the tribal region of South Waziristan.

There was no immediate information about how many of the casualties are foreign fighters. But earlier today, authorities said at least 10 Uzbek fighters and one local resident were killed overnight during a battle near Wana.

They said nine other Uzbeks were injured and one captured, and that foreign Al-Qaeda fighters also shot dead one local man.

Thousands of Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants fled into Pakistan's tribal areas after the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in late 2001.

Relations between the foreign militants and Pakistani tribesmen have deteriorated since then.

More than 160 people have been killed in fighting in the area on March 19, when a Taliban-commander-turned-government-supporter ordered Uzbek and Chechen militants to disarm.

Local residents say as many as 500 Uzbek and Chechen fighters are now besieged by about 1,500 Pakistani tribal fighters in the region's mountainous areas of Azam Warsak, Shen Warsak, and Kalusha.

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report

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