Pakistan security forces airstrikes kill several Taliban militants

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

File photo of Ashfaq Kayani, Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army.
Image: U.S. Navy.

Pakistan security forces attacked Taliban strongholds in northwest Pakistan yesterday. Aided by fighter jets and gunship helicopters they claim to have killed 21 Taliban militants in Kurram and Bajaur. The offensive targeted the remote town of Bajaur, along the Afghan border; this area has been frequently targeted to attack Islamic extremists.

Sources claim the first attack occurred in the Damdola, Sewai and Shago segments of Mamoond tehsil. The latter is a renowned Taliban stronghold located only about fifteen miles northeast of the town of Khar.

"Air strikes by the jet fighters continued for more than two hours. Ten militants have been killed and several hideouts were destroyed," stated a Frontier Corps official in Khar.

Speaking for local authorities, Firamosh Khan confirmed the attack, "[i]t is true that several militants were killed."

Bajaur was the location of anti-terrorist actions in late 2008; by February last year the army claimed to have secured the area. Despite this, conditions of the area have been tumultuous; air attacks are again frequent. Such attacks are part of an offensive against Taliban strongholds throughout northwest Pakistan, started last year.

The Pakistani government also sent approximately 30,000 troops, assisted by fighter planes, to fight Taliban extremists in South Waziristan in October. The army claims this attack has progressed, and they have attained some success.

Related to this, helicopter gunships shelled Salarzai, about twenty kilometers northwest of Khar. Pakistani security sources claimed this action resulted in the deaths of two militants.

In a separate incident, eleven suspected insurgents died when security forces, along with jets and helicopters, raided their hideouts. Official sources claimed four such hideouts were demolished.

In the past day, about 23 extremists have been captured by security forces. The arrests were made during search and raiding in multiple areas of Khyber Agency, say sources.

In a statement yesterday, NWFP Frontier Corps expressed hope that the situation at Kurram Agency had marginally improved. They added that the Thal-Parachinar Road is now partially open.

On Sunday, near Badama, explosives were detonated which injured two soldiers of the Pakistani army. One suspected militant was arrested by security in Bajaur Agency, on Saturday. Two other suspects were located in Dir district; they were handed over to Lal Qila police.