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Pakistan Ends Operation Against Al-Qaeda Suspects

14 June 2004 -- The Pakistani military said today its troops have ended a major operation to flush out suspected Al-Qaeda militants from hideouts in a remote region near Afghanistan.

The operation left 72 people dead, including 17 security personnel.

Military spokesman General Shaukat Sultan said the operation was launched after foreign militants killed 15 security personnel near the town of Shakai, 350 kilometers west of the capital, Islamabad, on 9 June.

Army soldiers, backed by artillery, helicopter gunships, and jet fighters, targeted rebel hideouts. Sultans said the five-day operation left 55 militants dead.

Pakistan's tribal regions bordering Afghanistan are considered a possible hideout for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his chief aide, Ayman al-Zawahri.