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"2 empty graves ......

Published:

"2 empty graves found at Bajaur

"ISLAMABAD: Investigators said on Wednesday that they had found two empty graves at the site of a controversial US air strike in the Bajaur Agency, a day after officials said that up to five foreign militants had died in the attack.

However, there was no information about the identities of the insurgents who died in the raid, despite initial US intelligence reports that Al Qaeda’s Egyptian number two Ayman al-Zawahri may have been among them.

Officials said that local militants may have shifted the bodies before their scheduled burials to stop authorities from DNA testing the remains and finding out who was killed in Friday’s missile attack.

Residents of Damadola village in Bajaur, however, have reported that 18 civilians died in the attack, for whom as many graves were dug, and that no militants were in the area.

“The residents dug 18 graves but buried 16 people and two graves were left vacant before they covered them over,” a senior security official said, citing a report by intelligence officials in the region. On Tuesday, the Bajaur regional administration chief said that the missile strike was aimed at foreign militants invited to a dinner and that four or five were killed – the first such public confirmation by Pakistan.

The tribal administration said that two local militants, Maulana Faqir Mohammad and Maulana Liaqat, had removed the bodies of the foreign extremists killed in the attack to “suppress the actual reason of the attack”, but gave no evidence.

On Wednesday, Shah Zaman Khan, director general of media relations for the tribal areas, said that the terrorists’ bodies are now probably in “inaccessible mountainous areas” along the rugged, ill-defined border. “Efforts are underway to investigate further,” Khan said. “The administration is also trying to arrest those clerics who were believed to be there.”

A counter-terrorism official said that several of those killed were believed to be Egyptian.

The air strike prompted mass protests at the weekend and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Tuesday that Pakistan “could not accept” such attacks. Pakistan has said that it received no warning of the attack despite being a key ally in the US-led “war on terror”. US intelligence sources said that the air strike was carried out by a US Central Intelligence Agency Predator drone. The situation in Bajaur remained tense on Wednesday, a day after officials banned all journalists from the area. agencies."

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006\01\19\story_19-1-2006_pg1_7
Entry #154

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