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Extremists Tell Pakistani Tribal Leaders To Prepare To Fight U.S. Troops

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Extremists leaders in Pakistan are instructing residents near the border with Afghanistan to prepare for the possibility of fighting U.S. ground troops in Pakistan's tribal agencies.

Qazi Hussain Ahmad, leader of Pakistan's Jamaat-e Islami, made the call amid unconfirmed reports of increased U.S. military activity near the Afghan-Pakistani border.

But a spokesman for Pakistan's Army, Major General Athar Abbas, says press reports and rumors of a possible U.S. ground attack are "baseless."

Residents of Lwara Mandai -- in the tribal region of North Waziristan -- told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that U.S. helicopters flew over their village on July 22, about 1 kilometer from the border with Afghanistan. The villagers say they also have seen pilotless surveillance planes in Pakistani airspace every day for the last two months.

Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani told a gathering of tribal leaders in Peshawar on July 21 that he would guarantee no foreign troops would fight on Pakistani soil if tribal leaders force foreign militants from the area.

U.S. President George W. Bush has said he will speak with Gilani about attacks in Afghanistan by Pakistani-based militants when the two meet in Washington on July 28.

Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Najib Amir contributed to this story from Peshawar
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