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Pakistan secures Afghan border

From Islamabad Bureau Chief Ash-har Quraishi

Pakistani forces have been on the lookout for Taliban and al Qaeda remnants.
Pakistani forces have been on the lookout for Taliban and al Qaeda remnants.

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(CNN) -- Pakistani troops on the lookout for al Qaeda and Taliban members moving between Afghanistan and Pakistan have secured nearly all key mountain passes in an important border area, a top official has said.

However, Pakistan's Federal Interior Secretary Tafneem Noorani said troops were continuing to face opposition from some local tribesmen in the remote region, located in the country's North-West Frontier Province.

"We have secured seven out of eight passes in the Mohmand," he said, but "some resistance" remains.

The presence of troops in the region is particularly significant because it has traditionally not come under government control.

Officials are meeting with local tribes to help them understand the importance of the anti-terrorist operation.

Recent days have seen several clashes between Pakistani soldiers and local tribesmen. In one such incident on Monday a soldier was killed and another was wounded.

A Pakistani military spokesman said troops -- with the cooperation of residents -- have established their presence in much of the region, except a small pocket in the Salala pass close to the Pakistan-Afghan border where some people are occupying hilltops and firing on troops.

"Our force is exercising utmost restraint and is trying to resolve the issue through jirgas and other political means," a military spokesman said.

U.S.-led forces and Afghan troops are operating on the Afghan side of the border whereas only Pakistani troops are operating on the Pakistani side.


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