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50 freed as gesture |

50 freed as gesture

The Associated Press
| Monday, April 26, 2004 12:00 a.m

PESHAWAR — In a gesture of reconciliation, Pakistan on Sunday freed 50 men arrested in a bloody counterterrorism offensive near the Afghan border, saying investigations proved them innocent.

The releases came a day after authorities pardoned five renegade tribal leaders accused of harboring al-Qaida fugitives. In exchange, the leaders promised to live peacefully and not help terrorists.

The deal could end months of fighting between tribesmen and Pakistan’s army in the lawless region of South Waziristan, which has emerged as the front line in the country’s battle to control tribal militants with strong ethnic and ideological ties to Afghanistan’s former Taliban regime.

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