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Official: Pakistan Taliban, al-Qaida tied

Sept. 2, 2008 at 7:02 AM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Pakistan's top security official says the country's Taliban is a "mouthpiece" of al-Qaida.

"We have certain evidence that there is a close connection, links and that there are similarities between al-Qaida and TTP," Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters in Islamabad, Dawn reported Tuesday.

TTP is the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, which was banned by the government last month after being blamed for a series of suicide attacks, which killed hundreds of people, the report said.

Malik, responding to a question whether Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy to al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, talks to the TTP, said, "If al-Qaida is to move in a tribal area, they have to look to the TTP" to find refuge, the report said.

"The TTP is a host to al-Qaida and is their mouthpiece," he added.

Noting that there is evidence of foreign fighters operating in Pakistan, Malik said, "We have also found traces of militants from the Uzbek and ... Chinese Islamic movements in the tribal regions."

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