Intelligence on bomb sites was wrong: Army

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Army said on Friday that its attempts to destroy four militant bomb-making factories only partly succeeded because intelligence on two of the sites was wrong.

By (AP)

Published: Sun 19 Jun 2011, 12:13 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 10:34 PM

But the army also disputed media reports that security forces had tipped off insurgents after getting US intelligence on the factories, calling those assertions of collusion “totally false and malicious.”

The carefully worded, two-paragraph army statement did not says whether the US shared intelligence on the sites in question. It also was unclear about their exact location and does not say when the raids occurred.

Nonetheless, it’s likely to further add to tensions between Pakistan and the US, which have been unusually high since the raid by US forces, desecrating Pakistan’s sovereignty, that killed Osama bin Laden.

American officials told AP in early June that they had shared satellite information with Pakistan about two militant bomb-making factories and that within 24 hours, they watched the militants clear out the sites, raising suspicions that the Pakistanis shared the information.

Various media accounts said the factories were in the Waziristan stretch of Pakistan’s tribal belt, where Al Qaeda and Taleban fighters have long proliferated.

The intelligence-sharing was part of a US attempt to improve the relationship with Pakistan.

The alliance has been especially weakened since the May 2 unilateral US raid to kill the Al Qaeda chief in the northwest Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad. Bin Laden’s presence there has only added to US suspicions that elements within Pakistan’s powerful security establishment were playing a “double game” by colluding with some militants while going after others.

Pakistani leaders have denied knowing that Bin Laden was in Abbottabad — and US officials have said there’s no evidence yet that the upper ranks of the Pakistani military or civilian leadership helped hide him. But Pakistanis are furious that the US staged the raid without any warning or Islamabad’s consent in total violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

They also are angry over a series of recent media reports that seem to cast more doubt on their activities, including the one about the factories.

The statement says the army launched attacks on four compounds suspected to be where militants built “improvised explosive devices” — which typically come in the form of roadside bombs. Two were found to match that description and were destroyed, but the information on the others was “incorrect.”

“Some persons have been arrested and they are under investigation,” the statement adds.

Also on Friday, security forces backed by artillery killed 12 militants in a tribal region where insurgents have been mounting cross-border attacks from Afghanistan, a government official said.

The attacks have upset Pakistan, which says they are happening because US and NATO forces are not doing enough to protect the territory on the Afghan side. Western forces have had the same complaints about Pakistan’s activities on its side of the boundary.

The search operation on Friday took place in the Mamund area of Bajaur. It came a day after more than 300 militants launched a cross-border attack on a village in the same area. Government official Tariq Khan said Friday’s search came after fresh intelligence reports on militants coming from Afghanistan to the area to target tribal militiamen and troops stationed there.

“We are deploying additional security forces in our villages and towns located near the Afghan border to protect our areas,” he said, adding that tribal elders were asked to remain vigilant and alert authorities of any militant movement.

Pakistan’s military has launched offensives aimed at clearing Bajaur of Al Qaeda and Taleban fighters, but the militants there still retain the ability to strike.

The US has supported Pakistan’s efforts to clear Bajaur, but it has also pushed it to go after militants in North Waziristan. Many of the militant groups in that region are focused on attacking Western forces in Afghanistan.

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