Warships from countries including China and Britain along with host Pakistan gathered for a naval exercise yesterday designed to boost international anti-maritime terrorism efforts, the Pakistani navy said.
27 countries, including rivals US and Iran are taking part in the weeklong "Aman 07" exercise centered on Karachi, Pakistan's main port on the Arabian Sea and its principal naval base.
In the primary "harbor phase," a range of conferences will allow naval officers to exchange information on their respective forces’ capabilities, navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander Salman Ali said, adding that exercises at sea would begin tomorrow.
Britain, France, China, Malaysia and Bangladesh have already sent ships to Karachi for the war games while naval forces and observers from Italy, Turkey, Iran and the US among others were awaited yesterday.
Yesterday's exercise began shortly after 17 people, including 12 Al-Qaida-linked Uzbeks, were reported killed in a rare clash between militants and tribesmen in a Pakistani region seen as harboring militant fighters.
Three Pakistani tribesmen and two Afghan refugees were also among the dead following a battle in Azam Warsak, a village in the South Waziristan region of Pakistan near the Afghan border.
Hundreds of foreign militants, mainly Uzbeks, Chechens and Arabs, are holed up in Waziristan and other Pakistani tribal areas after fleeing Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban in late 2001.
(China Daily March 7, 2007)