15 soldiers die in mess hall attack as Pakistan seeks to assure U.S.

The Baltimore Sun

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Amid a surge of fighting in Pakistan's borderlands and a deadly suicide attack on a military installation, President Pervez Musharraf assured Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte yesterday that his government is doing all it can to fight Islamic militancy.

At least 15 soldiers were killed in the suicide attack on the mess hall of an army installation about 60 miles south of the capital, Islamabad, military officials said.

Separately, Pakistani military officials said government troops had killed dozens of insurgents in two days of fierce fighting in North and South Waziristan, the most restive of the tribal areas that abut the Afghan border. Local militant sources said dozens of soldiers had been killed as well, a claim flatly denied by the chief military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad.

The visit by Negroponte, which was scheduled months earlier, comes at a time when Musharraf is struggling to cope with a burgeoning domestic political crisis as well as attacks on his military.

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