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Pakistani Troops Capture Town Used By Uzbek Militants

Soldiers secure a location on a hillside in South Waziristan
Soldiers secure a location on a hillside in South Waziristan
TASHKENT -- Pakistani troops have surrounded Kaniguram, a key base for Uzbek Islamic militants in Pakistan's South Waziristan region, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

The town overlooks Karama, a city reportedly being used as a training base for foreign terrorist groups like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

The Pakistani Army launched an offensive into South Waziristan two weeks ago, aiming to root out militants.

General Athar Abbas, a Pakistani Army spokesman, told RFE/RL that "the first achievement is that [Kaniguram] has been surrounded."

But he said the Uzbeks living there -- some estimates say as many as 1,000 -- are "really ferocious fighters." Abbas said he is hopeful that they will be defeated. He added that the army has "credible" information that IMU leader Tahir Yuldash, who was reported killed on October 2, is dead and the group has chosen a "second leader," someone who worked closely with Yuldashev.

Abbas said Uzbeks are still in "complete command" of the area and "quite a number of them have been killed," though he did not give a specific number.

Abbas said that civilians will not be harmed by the Pakistani army during the fighting, but said he would not discuss the military's tactics until the operation is completed.