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10 Pakistanis Killed in Raid on al Qaeda

Aired June 26, 2002 - 05:29   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news to tell you about. We want to head live to Pakistan and check in with Tom Mintier.

Don't know quite what's going on in Pakistan, but Tom will join us in just a second.

Tom, are you there?

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am here.

I wanted to report on an ongoing operation that's going on about 300 kilometers, about 190 miles west-southwest of the capital, Islamabad in the tribal areas called Wana.

And what has happened there, there is apparently an ongoing operation against al Qaeda elements that have crossed the border and have tried to mix into the population in the tribal areas.

So far, 10 Pakistani security personnel have been killed, according to government officials. At least one al Qaeda suspect has been killed. Another has been captured.

This is an ongoing operation and apparently started as a predawn raid on what was a suspected al Qaeda hideout. That heavy gunfire was exchanged and Pakistani security forces say they're quite concerned, because some of these houses that are being used by al Qaeda are close to civilian populations in the area and they have used minimum amount of force in trying to make the arrests that they were trying to make this morning.

But apparently when they went to this area to make the arrests, heavy fire was exchanged and so far 10 Pakistani security forces have been killed. One al Qaeda suspect apparently dead. Another has been captured.

But the operation, according to a presidential spokesman, is still ongoing at this hour.

COSTELLO: Tom, are there any Americans involved?

MINTIER: Well, the FBI does, indeed, have some people on the ground in that area that (AUDIO GAP)... COSTELLO: Hmmm, we have lost Tom, so we won't know the answer to that question -- actually, we'll try to find out the answer to that question. That will be coming up at the next half hour of CNN DAYBREAK. Also this...

Tom, did we get you back?

MINTIER: Yes, we had a little problem with the phone here. Again, it's difficult communications out of here.

The Americans that may have been involved were probably limited to the FBI, who are stationed in Pakistan, involved in the investigation of al Qaeda. They have been attacked several times, never successfully, in places that they're staying in the tribal areas. There have been several rocket attacks in the last couple of months in an area where they're staying.

But U.S. Special Forces across the border in Afghanistan have, indeed, been conducting operations for months now, trying to root out the elements of al Qaeda in the mountainous areas just across from this tribal area where this shooting took place.

COSTELLO: So you think there may be Americans, we just don't know yet?

MINTIER: Well, probably not U.S. special forces involved on the ground, because Pakistan has maintained throughout this conflict that no U.S. combat troops are operating inside of Pakistan. Now, they have admitted that the FBI is, indeed, on the ground here. They have been involved in the investigation of the Karachi consulate last, a couple of weeks ago, and are, indeed, located in some of the tribal areas.

But as far as U.S. combat forces, ground forces, Pakistan maintains a stance that there are none inside the country.

COSTELLO: All right, Tom Mintier reporting live from Pakistan. Hopefully we'll get an update from you a little bit later. Thank you for that report.

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