Pakistan Denies Taliban Leaders Have Escaped over Border
Islamabad Wednesday denied a report that leaders of Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime had escaped to Pakistan.
"This is totally baseless. We have no evidence to that effect," Interior Secretary Tanseem Noorani said, reacting to a report by NBC News.
The US network said hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaeda troops, including many of their remaining leaders, had escaped from Afghanistan into neighboring Iran and Pakistan.
NBC, quoting Pentagon sources, said it was believed that almost all of the top 22 Taliban leaders -- apart from Mullah Mohammad Omar -- have escaped into Pakistan.
"We are in touch with our border forces and we are very conscious of this possibility and therefore the vigilance is the highest that it has ever been on our border," Noorani told AFP.
"As a matter of fact, Taliban who tried to enter Pakistan had either been pushed back or are in our custody and none of these are the important ones."
Pakistan has deployed regular troops in addition to paramilitary forces on its 2,400-kilometer (1,500 mile) border with Afghanistan.
Extra forces have been poured into a 40 kilometer (25 mile) stretch of the border opposite the Tora Bora area where al-Qaeda fighters loyal to terrorism suspect Osama bin Laden are under siege – Islamabad (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)