U.S. officials say Pakistan has apparently tipped off militants at two more bomb-building factories in its tribal areas, giving the terror suspects time to flee, after U.S. intelligence shared the locations with the Pakistani government.
Those officials believe Pakistan's insistence on seeking local tribal elders' permission before raiding the areas may have most directly contributed to the militants' flight, though they also suspect low-level security officials may have tipped the militants off.
U.S. officials have pushed for Pakistan to keep the location of such targets secret prior to the operations, but the Pakistanis say their troops cannot enter the lawless regions without giving the locals notice.
The latest incidents bring to a total of four bomb-making sites that the United States has shared with Pakistan only to have the terrorist suspects flee before the Pakistani military arrived much later. The report does not bode well for attempts by both sides to mend relations and rebuild trust after the U.S. raid on May 2 that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a Pakistani army town only 35 miles from the capital Islamabad.
The Pakistanis believe the Americans violated their sovereignty by keeping them in the dark about the raid. American officials believe bin Laden's location proves some elements of the Pakistani army or intelligence service helped hide the al-Qaida mastermind.
The U.S. officials explained Saturday how they first offered the location of the third, and then the fourth site, in order to give Pakistan another chance to prove it could be trusted to go after the militants.
The Americans carefully monitored the area to see what would happen, the officials said.
In each case, they watched the militants depart within 24 hours, taking any weapons or bomb-making materials with them, just as militants had done the first two times.
Pakistan's army on Friday called the assertions of collusion with militants "totally false and malicious."