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Pakistan Sends More Troops To Afghan Border Region

Islamabad, 26 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Pakistan and the United States are intensifying their operations to capture suspected Al-Qaeda militants on both sides of the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistani and U.S. officials have said they are attempting to verify the authenticity of an audiotape purportedly from Al-Qaeda that urges Pakistanis to overthrow President Pervez Musharraf, saying his government is working for the United States.

The tape, which was broadcast on the Al-Jazeera television channel, was said to have been recorded by Ayman al-Zawahri, the supposed number two figure in Al-Qaeda behind Osama bin Laden. The speaker on the tape appears to refer to the battle against militants that involves several thousand Pakistani troops.

Pakistan's information minister said today that the army is sending more troops to reinforce the siege in a semi-autonomous tribal area and is determined to flush out Al-Qaeda militants and allied tribesmen.

U.S. defense officials announced plans to add some 2,000 Marines to the 11,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan to help intensify the hunt for Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters along the Afghan-Pakistani border.