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Purported Al Qaeda Tape Urges Pakistan Coup

Musharraf is a 'traitor,' says a man believed to be Zawahiri. Border campaign continues.

March 26, 2004|From Associated Press

CAIRO — A tape purportedly recorded by Ayman Zawahiri, the No. 2 figure in Al Qaeda, called Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf a "traitor" Thursday and urged the overthrow of his government.

Arab satellite television channel Al Jazeera broadcast a seven-minute excerpt from a tape it received Thursday. Its authenticity could not immediately be verified.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said the government had no immediate comment.

The audiotape comes as Pakistani troops are in the second week of a campaign along the Afghan border in South Waziristan, a longtime hiding place and stronghold of Islamic militants associated with Al Qaeda, Afghanistan's Taliban and their Pakistani supporters. There had been speculation that Zawahiri was among them.

In Islamabad, Pakistani officials said their forces had killed more than 50 alleged terrorists and captured 163 in the sweep in South Waziristan.

Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat told lawmakers that more than 20 terrorists were confirmed killed and that he expected 30 to 35 more bodies of terrorists to be recovered as the operation concludes.

At least 30 Pakistani army and paramilitary troops have been killed during the operation and a dozen more taken captive.

Also, U.S. defense officials said about 2,000 Marines aboard ships in the Persian Gulf would go ashore in Afghanistan to join the search for insurgents linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not say when the Marines planned to arrive.

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