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Afghan leader threatens to send troops into Pakistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened Sunday to send Afghan troops after notorious Taliban leaders inside Pakistan in an angry warning to his eastern neighbor that he will no longer tolerate cross-border attacks.

The threat, the first time Karzai has said he would send forces into Pakistan, comes days after a sophisticated Taliban assault on Kandahar's prison freed 870 prisoners, and six weeks after Karzai survived his fourth assassination attempt.

Karzai has long pleaded with Pakistan and the international community to confront tribal area safe havens, and U.S. officials have increased their warnings in recent weeks that the sanctuaries in Pakistan must be dealt with.

Last week, U.S. aircraft dropped bombs along the Afghan-Pakistan border, an incident the Pakistan army said killed 11 of its paramilitary forces. The exchange ratcheted up increasingly touchy relations among the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan. Associated Press

Al-Sadr to back candidates that don't bear his brand

Anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's followers won't field candidates under their movement's banner in upcoming provincial elections but will back sympathetic independents and candidates from other party lists, a spokesman said Sunday.

The decision is part of a bid by the populist cleric to avoid a government campaign against the Sadrist brand, including efforts to prevent parties that operate militias from fielding candidates. Al-Sadr runs the biggest Shiite militia, the Mahdi Army.

“We are not boycotting the provincial elections,” said Sheik Salah al-Obeidi, a senior al-Sadr aide in the holy city of Najaf. “We will participate but not in a clear list for Sadrists. We will support independent figures and people whom we find suitable.”

Al-Obeidi also said any Sadrists who want to run in the elections would join other lists and represent the movement on an individual basis.

The move is part of a shift in strategy by al-Sadr since a spring crackdown on his followers in Baghdad and southern Iraq. Associated Press

Blitz uncovers several weapons caches

In a weekend blitz that U.S. military officials said “severely degrades” the capability of Iraqi insurgents, American and Iraqi troops seized one “huge” and three smaller weapons and munitions caches in Baghdad.

The cache called huge, by Lt. Col. Steve Stover of the Multi-National Division/Baghdad and the 4th Infantry Division, was found Saturday in the west Rashid part of the capital. It held 90 Soviet-made rockets, several mortars made in Iran, mines, TNT and numerous other explosives, he said.

At the same site, Iraqi soldiers found a small arsenal of related devices, such as 500 pounds of ball bearings and digital timers, which can be used for homemade bombs.

Earlier in the day, three separate smaller caches were discovered by both the Iraqi army and civilians, Stover said. McClatchy Newspapers

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