Pakistani tribal chief accused of harboring al-Qaida suspects surrenders

Friday, July 16th 2004, 6:14 am
By: News On 6

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) _ A Pakistani tribal chief accused of sheltering al-Qaida suspects in a region bordering Afghanistan has surrendered, an official said Friday.

Maulvi Shaukatullah, chief of the Bizankhel tribe, gave himself up Thursday to government officials in Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, said Brig. Mahmood Shah, chief of security for the region.

Hundreds of Arab, Central Asian and Afghan al-Qaida suspects are believed to be hiding in the tribal region near Afghanistan.

Pakistani security forces have carried out several operations in the area to flush out the militants. About 100 fighters and Pakistani soldiers died in the latest offensive last month in Shakai, a village 15 miles west of Wana.

The government has offered foreign militants amnesty and permission to live in the area if they register with local authorities and renounce terrorism. There have been no reports of terror suspects taking the government up on its offer.

Shah said Shaukatullah, whose Bizankhel tribe is based in Shakai, was wanted for harboring militants in the village.

Two other tribesmen surrendered earlier this month in Wana under the amnesty. Dozens of tribesmen were being sought, he said.