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Pakistani Forces Retake Control of Key Tunnel in Northwest

  • VOA News

Pakistani security forces say they have retaken control of a key highway tunnel in the country's Northwest Frontier Province, killing at least 24 militants who had blocked the tunnel since Friday.

The Japanese-built Kohat tunnel is on the Indus Highway, the main road linking the provincial capital Peshawar to the tribal areas along the Afghan border. Fighting broke out after militants had attacked army trucks loaded with ammunition.

The clashes near the town of Dara Adam Khel (near the city of Peshawar) are part of a series of battles with radical Islamic fighters who are trying to extend their reach within Pakistan's rugged northwest.

In the tribal region of South Waziristan, Pakistani forces say they exchanged fire with militants on Sunday. Troops are searching for al-Qaida linked militant leader Baitullah Mehsud -- who the government blames for planning the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Meanwhile, a published report in the United States says top U. intelligence officials secretly traveled to Pakistan on January 9th try to persuade President Pervez Musharraf to allow American military operations inside Pakistan's tribal regions.

"The New York Times" says Mr. Musharraf rejected the proposal from the highest-ranking US intelligence official ,Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and the director of the CIA General Michael Hayden.

Instead, the newspaper says the two militaries are discussing expanding missions involving unmanned aerial drones and improving intelligence-sharing.

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