Al-Qaeda leadership in Pak’s FATA region: Mullen

Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has said the al-Qaeda leadership resides...

Written by Press Trust Of India | Washington | Published: July 11, 2009 3:42:08 am

Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has said the al-Qaeda leadership resides in the federally-administered tribal areas (FATA) of Pakistan and the US is determined to defeat them.

“The top priority… is to defeat al-Qaeda,whose leadership resides in the FATA — in the federal areas,the tribal areas — in Western Pakistan,” Mullen said in his remarks at a luncheon held at the National Press Club in Washington on Thursday.

“A year ago,not many people would have said that the Pakistani military could pull that off,and yet they have made an awful lot of progress,” he said.

“Then that kind of both effort and the cooperation that we’re trying to generate through our engagement in the long run,I think,with the development of the Afghan security forces and the Pakistani security forces,puts growing and continued pressure on that threat that I talked about earlier,” Mullen said.

“We still are working our way. We have ways to go in terms of those relationships,which are between Pakistan and Afghanistan. And that’s,I think,historically known,and obviously we’ve got a ways to go with our own relationships for those two countries… and overall,we’re moving in the right direction,” Mullen said.

Meanwhile on Friday,at least 42 Taliban terrorists were killed in airstrikes by fighter jets and in ground clashes in Pakistan’s tribal belt,where a deadly ambush by militants at a checkpost led to the death of four security personnel.

Jets and helicopter gunships pounded positions of the Taliban who had taken over the houses of the minority Sikh community in the restive Orakzai region,killing 39 militants.

In Khar,the headquarters of Bajaur agency near the Afghan border,some 20 to 25 militants attacked a checkpost,killing four personnel of the Levies or a local militia,who were manning it.

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