Troops hunt Taliban:
Pakistan says victory near
PAKISTAN: Pakistan’s defence secretary said Sunday that a month-long
offensive to crush Taliban fighters in northwest Swat could end within
days, as fierce fighting spilled into a nearby tribal area.
Swat valley’s main town Mingora is back in government hands, the
military announced late Saturday, and security officials said they were
now pursuing the top leadership of the hardline Taliban movement into
the nearby mountains.
Secretary of Defence Syed Athar Ali told a security forum in
Singapore that three targeted northwest districts were almost clear of
“Operations in Swat, Buner and adjoining areas have almost met
complete success,” he said.
“Only five to ten percent of the job is remaining and hopefully
within the next two to three days these pockets of resistance will be
However, chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP
that it was impossible to estimate when the offensive would end.
“The operation is continuing in all of the areas and at this stage we
cannot give any timeframe,” he said.
The army remains locked in battle in some areas, but the fall of
Mingora was a critical milestone in an offensive launched after the
Taliban thrust to within 100 kilometres (60 miles) of Islamabad in
Pakistan’s military also reported that 25 militants and seven
soldiers were killed in clashes in South Waziristan near the Afghan
border, a bolt-hole for Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants south of
the current army bombardment.
“Miscreants attacked a security forces checkpost last night
(Saturday) in Spinkai Raghzai, South Waziristan agency. The attack was
repulsed successfully, inflicting heavy casualties on militants,” it
said in a statement.
Fifteen militants and three soldiers died in the clash in Spinkai
Raghzai, while elsewhere in the semi-autonomous tribal area 10
insurgents and four troops including a lieutenant died when rebels
attacked a military convoy.
Civilians have started fleeing the area fearing a fresh military
onslaught, but the army has denied an imminent assault on Waziristan,
where militants branded by Washington as the greatest terror threat to
the West are holed up.