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Pakistani Border Town Under Curfew Following Fighting

Pakistani paramilitary troops in the North Waziristan region (file photo) (epa) March 7, 2006 -- Pakistani authorities say security forces have been enforcing a nearly 24-hour curfew in the North Waziristan town of Miranshah, the site of three days of fighting between troops and pro-Taliban militants.

Pakistani helicopter gunships and artillery again targeted suspected militant hideouts in the town on March 6, and thousands of townspeople are reported to have fled the region near the Afghan border. Local clerics are reportedly trying to mediate a cease-fire.

Officials said the curfew in Miranshah was in force around-the-clock except for three hours to allow residents to get supplies.

Pakistani officials say they believe more than 100 militants might have died in the fighting that began on March 4.

The tribally dominated region has historically been a source of regional instability and friction.

The unrest has further strained relations between the Pakistani and Afghan governments, with Pakistan linking the violence to the insurgency in Afghanistan and Afghan officials suggesting Pakistan has not done enough to stop cross-border infiltration by militants.

The Afghan and Pakistani presidents, Hamid Karzai and General Pervez Musharraf, have recently leveled strong accusations and counteraccusations over shared intelligence and security issues.

(compiled from agency reports)