Fourteen militants killed in South Waziristan
Saturday, 21 Nov, 2009
On the Razmak-Makeen Axis, security forces secured Lakki Ghundi after an
intense battle. — File photo
ISLAMABAD: At least 14 suspected militants were killed in South Waziristan in the past 24 hours, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Saturday. Six soldiers, including an officer, were also killed, while four others were injured.
Security forces cleared the Gandil Wala area on the Jandola-Sararogha Axis, the ISPR said. Forces also carried out search operation at Sarwekai.
Meanwhile, on the Razmak-Makeen Axis, security forces secured Lakki Ghundi after an intense battle. During the operation 14 terrorists were killed while six soldiers, including an officer, also died. Four others were injured.
Meanwhile, on the Shakai-Kaniguram axis, security forces conducted search operations in Paya (near Tiarza) and Yargha Khel. A 70 feet long tunnel was discovered and destroyed near Kaniguram. — DawnNews
DAWN.COM | Pakistan | Fourteen militants killed in South Waziristan
Ghost towns left by assault on South Waziristan
Thursday, 19 Nov, 2009
LADHA: Donkeys nibbling on the roadside are the only creatures living in the ruins of war in the hamlet of Ladha, the scenic valley emptied of inhabitants due to fighting between army and Taliban, AFP reports.
For five weeks, 30,000 troops backed by warplanes and helicopter gunships have waged battle in South Waziristan, bombing, shelling and fighting in streets against homegrown Taliban militants the military has vowed to crush.
Once notorious as a bastion of Tehreek-e-Taliban and Uzbek fighters, the small village of Ladha is now reduced to a shell of damaged buildings, piles of rubble and a ruined paramilitary fort. There was not a civilian in sight.
Commanders say resistance was stiff, that fighting in the streets and along slippery mountain ridges killed 250 militants — just under half the number the army says have been killed overall since October 17 in Waziristan.
The military this week ferried journalists for a guided tour of Ladha and Sararogha, for a first look at the legacy of the operation and the commanders' perspective of the gains they say they are making.
The United Nations says 268,000 people have been displaced. That number is more than half the estimated population of South Waziristan with extensive battle damage raising questions about how they will rebuild their lives.
‘We shot terrorists even at point blank range,’ Brigadier Farrukh Jamal told reporters at a hill-top bunker, where the green and white Pakistani flag snapped in the wind, denying there was any ‘collateral damage’.
‘When we reached here we made announcements that all civilians should gather at one place. Some 200 people came and we transported them to safer areas.’
‘We recovered a huge number of arms, ammunition, explosives and militant literature. Most of the usable weapons are being now used against the militants,’ Jamal said.
But the army took no chances with security. Two helicopters carrying the journalists were escorted by four helicopter gunships. The aircraft dropped the reporters at Sararogha and Ladha, but quickly took off to park elsewhere.
‘This is for the security of the helicopters. Militants can attack them,’ one military official at Sararogha told AFP.
‘Do not leave the track and walk in other areas, there might be some IED's buried there. We have cleared most of the area of mines and booby traps, but still there are chances,’ the official said.
In the town of Sararogha, ruined streets and shops are testament to the pitched battles between troops and battled-hardened Taliban militants and their Al-Qaeda cohorts.
In the main market, mangled shutters lie in rubble scattered everywhere as if a typhoon had ripped through the dusty valley ringed by mountains.
‘It was the place where forces faced very stiff resistance in a week-long battle from November 2-7,’ said Sararogha commander Brigadier Shafeeq Ahmed standing on the roof of a mosque amid a ruined paramilitary fort.
‘Sararogha was the icon of South Waziristan, it was their headquarters,’ he said pointing out a patch of land where a peace deal was signed in 2004.
Previous offensives in the region have ended with peace deals, which critics argued allowed militants to re-arm, and analysts warn that Pakistan should bankroll a major reconstruction effort to hold onto bomb-damaged war zones.
‘It was the place where militants used to hold their meetings and issue orders,’ said Ahmed, pointing towards the local government high school building which also carries the scars of battles today and in the past.
In January 2008, Taliban militants joined by battle-hardened Uzbeks and Arabs attacked the Sararogha paramilitary fort.
Chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said security forces today control the roads, towns and their strategic ridges in South Waziristan.
‘First you have to consolidate gains. Once the gains have been consolidated, the next phase of going into countryside would begin,’ he said.
The military says 70 soldiers have been killed since the offensive began, but none of the losses can be confirmed independently. Some security officials warn that many fighters have escaped into North Waziristan and Orakzai.
Abbas said that once the ‘writ of the state’ established in the area through the return of paramilitary force and civil administration then the process of repatriation and reconstruction could start.
DAWN.COM | Provinces | Ghost towns left by assault on South Waziristan
Taliban declare guerrilla war in South Waziristan
Thursday, 19 Nov, 2009
Azam Tariq, (C) spokesman for the TTP, is flanked by
his guards a during meeting with local journalists at an
undisclosed location in South Waziristan.—AFP
MIRAMSHAH: The Taliban hit back Wednesday at claims that towns in their mountain bastion have fallen to Pakistan army control, vowing their guerrilla war would defeat troops waging a major assault.
‘We have not been defeated. We have voluntarily withdrawn into the mountains under a strategy that will trap the Pakistan army in the area,’ Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told journalists taken blindfold to a mountain top.
Pakistan's main umbrella Taliban faction, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) arranged a news conference for journalists from the tribal belt a day after the military flew correspondents into South Waziristan to visit the battlefield.
An AFP reporter, who was among those taken to the mountain top, said the bearded Tariq sat on the open ground, without a rug or chairs.
Tariq, who is spokesman for TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, was flanked by two armed bodyguards. This was his first direct interaction with journalists since the military mounted the Waziristan offensive.
Journalists from North Waziristan were driven to the border with South Waziristan in broad daylight where they were blindfolded and transferred into waiting vehicles, said the AFP reporter.
They were then taken several kilometres into the rugged terrain where troops backed by fighter aircraft and attack helicopters were engaged in their heaviest to date anti-Taliban offensive.
Gunfire could be heard from the mountains while one military helicopter was also seen flying in the area.
‘Look —the firing is in Nawazkot of Makin town. But this is a futile exercise, the army will never succeed in seizing control of the area,’ Tariq said pointing to the helicopter.
‘The army claims they have captured most of the towns. This is wrong, in fact we have vacated old forts which we captured from them in previous clashes. The troops are trapped there and we will retake the area,’ he added.
The Taliban spokesman on Wednesday denied reports from tribesmen that the fighters had lost the sympathies of the local Mehsud tribe and spurned army claims of heavy Taliban casualties.
‘The Pakistan government was doing this only to appease the Americans,’ he added. But he vowed the Taliban will continue their jihad in Afghanistan until the withdrawal of US forces.
DAWN.COM | Provinces | Taliban declare guerrilla war in South Waziristan