Tuesday, February 08, 2005

GLOBAL JIHAD: Baitullah Mehsud surrenders in South Waziristan

+ Top pro-Taliban militant Baitullah Mehsud, who was wanted for sheltering al-Qaeda suspects in the country's tribal region, surrendered to the authorities Monday. Baitullah Mehsood, considered to be the overall commander of militants in his tribal region, surrendered along with some of his 150 comrades in the South Waziristan tribal agency bordering Afghanistan. +


Militant Baitullah Mehsud surrenders in South Waziristan
By Zulf Khan Afridi

ISLAMABAD: Top pro-Taliban militant Baitullah Mehsud, who was wanted for sheltering al-Qaeda suspects in the country's tribal region, surrendered to the authorities Monday.

Baitullah Mehsood, considered to be the overall commander of militants in his tribal region, surrendered along with some of his 150 comrades in the South Waziristan tribal agency bordering Afghanistan.

Political officials said Baitullah Mehsud and his followers will put down their arms and will not harbor foreign or local militants instead of lending helping hand to the security forces to net the al-Qaeda suspects.

Another beleaguered commander Abdullah Mehsud, 29, is wanted for masterminding the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in October last year.

Regular and paramilitary troops in South Waziristan are hunting Taliban remnants and members of al-Qaeda who have fled US-led campaign in Afghanistan since late 2001.

Amnesty for Baitullah

The authorities have announced amnesty for Baitullah and his companions, who will not shelter foreign militants, stop activities against the security and will not oppose development projects in the tribal area.

An earlier story said that Pakistan granted a general amnesty on Monday to a tribal group known for its pro al-Qaeda stance after the group promised to refrain from anti-government activities and providing refuge to al-Qaeda or Taliban operatives.

The amnesty was agreed at a grand Jirga (tribal meeting) held in Sararogha area, 45 kilometres east of Wana in the heartland of the South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Pledge by Tribal Chieftains

The group leader, Baitullah Mehsud, pledged to withdraw support for foreign militants to the Jirga, comprised of around 1,000 participants including tribal chieftains and local administration officials.

Mehsud, however demanded the government remove security checkpoints in the rugged region and accelerate development projects.

A senior local administration officer, Naveed Khan, warned the meeting of dire consequences for anyone supporting foreign militants.

The US, Afghan and Pakistani governments claim a large number of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters sneaked into Pakistani tribal areas after the demise of the radical Afghan regime of Mullah Omar in 2001.

Pakistani forces have been scouring South Waziristan in search of those militants since October-2003