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Pakistanis prepare assault on al Qaeda fighters

Heavy air assault expected after sunrise. The Pakistani military was preparing to launch a heavy air assault after sunrise Friday on al Qaeda troops believed to be protecting a “high-value” leader near the Afghanistan border, Pakistani sources told CNN. Intelligence indicated the surrounded figure is Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader, two Pakistani government sources told CNN. The planned dawn assault against the more than 200 al Qaeda fighters could consist of helicopter gunships and fixed-wing aircraft, the sources said. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said helicopter gunships and artillery were used Thursday to bombard the area in Waziristan, a remote region in northwestern Pakistan. He said the area surrounded has a perimeter of about 12 to 15 miles (20 to 25 kilometers). Full Story

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