WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. military faces the difficult question of what to do about al-Qaida and Taliban fighters who escaped from Afghanistan and are gathering in lawless regions of Pakistan.
As many as 1,000 Taliban and al-Qaida members are hiding in Pakistan and planning a comeback in Afghanistan, say Taliban members and others familiar with the Islamic movement.
American troops might chase al-Qaida fighters into Pakistan in "hot pursuit," said the U.S. field commander in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Frank Hagenbeck.
"That's a possibility," added Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, stressing that such action would come under limited circumstances and with Pakistani consultation.
This kind of an arrangement with Pakistan was acknowledged months ago by war commander Gen. Tommy Franks. It quickly was played down by Pakistani officials worried about enflaming anti-American Islamic militants in their country.
Sources in Pakistan have told The Associated Press that key al-Qaida figures slipped into the country last year and still may be there.
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