Gates: Qaeda has regrouped in Pakistan border area

Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:15pm EST
 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Al Qaeda has regrouped in Pakistan's remote Afghan border area and begun to focus attacks on the Pakistani government and military, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday.

But the Pentagon chief said al Qaeda's activities in Pakistan have not yet affected Afghanistan, where U.S. and coalition forces have faced increased Taliban violence in the past two years.

"There is no question that some of the areas in the frontier area have become areas where Al Qaeda has re-established itself," Gates said. "But so far, we haven't seen any significant consequence of that in Afghanistan itself.

"Al Qaeda right now seems to have turned its face toward Pakistan and attacks on the Pakistani government and Pakistani people," he told reporters.

Gates said the Pentagon was looking for ways to improve the Pakistani army's counter-insurgency capabilities by providing training and equipment. The United States provides hundreds of millions of dollars in security-related aid to Pakistan annually.

Attacks on the Pakistan government and military have increased in recent weeks. A suicide bomber killed 10 Pakistani military recruits in the northwestern town of Kohat on Monday.

More than 400 people have been killed in suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan in recent months, most in the North West Frontier Province.

(Reporting by Kristin Roberts; Editing by Bill Trott)

 
<p>Secretry of Defense Robert Gates speaks at the 4th IISS Regional Security Summit, in Manama, December 8, 2007. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed</p>