Pakistan: Cleric says militants joining forces, would welcome bin Laden

Pakistani militant groups are joining forces to fight the government, a fugitive cleric said Tuesday, and offered sanctuary to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Faqir Mohammed, a pro-Taliban cleric in the Bajur region, said militant leaders based near the Afghan border had formed an umbrella organization called Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. He said they had given the government 10 days to halt army operations in Waziristan and Swat, two militant strongholds in the northwest. "If the government continues war against us then we have chalked out our strategy and we will avenge for the blood of each of our people," said Mohammed.