Pakistani forces kill 15 militants near Afghan border

Monday, December 28, 2009

ISLAMABAD - The Pakistani military said Monday that 15 militants were killed as troops repelled an attack at a checkpoint in the South Waziristan tribal district on the Afghan border.

Government forces have been battling Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters in the region since Oct 17, gaining control of key towns and securing main land routes, according to the government.

The raid on Boya Narai Post Sunday night left two soldiers dead and three injured.

“Security forces effectively responded,” a military statement said. “Fifteen miscreants were killed, including terrorist commander Zainual.”

After several weeks of air and artillery strikes, more than 30,000 soldiers launched a major offensive in South Waziristan to dismantle the network of hardcore Taliban insurgents and their Al Qaeda allies.

The army claims it has killed more than 625 insurgents and lost more than 80 soldiers. The casualty figures are impossible to verify independently as the area is out of bounds for reporters and aid groups.

The military is now pursuing the rebels retreating deeper into side valleys and other parts of the lawless tribal belt.

Pakistani officials describe the onslaught as highly successful, but it is believed that most militants had earlier retreated to the nearby North Waziristan, Kurram and Orazkai tribal districts.

On Monday, at least 15 people were reported killed in a clash between a pro-government tribal militia and the Taliban in the Lower Orakzai area.

The fighting took place after militants attacked the house of a tribesman, Malik Sharif, in the Cham Channa village, the private Geo News television channel said.

Six attackers and nine militiamen, including Sharif, were killed in the fighting.

Orakzai, a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud, is the only tribal district that does not directly border Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s multiple anti-Taliban operations in the troubled northwest have triggered a deadly wave of retaliatory attacks by the Taliban militants, killing more than 500 people since October.

The main northwestern city of Peshawar has borne the brunt of the militant assaults. A car bomb in the city’s busy Peepal Mandi market killed at least 119 people Oct 28, making it the deadliest attack in the last two years.

Filed under: Terrorism

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