Pakistan Army Begins Waziristan Operation

Pakistan Army Begins Waziristan Operation

ISLAMABAD -- The showdown in Waziristan hinted at by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari 10 days ago may have already begun with the killing of Taliban militants by security forces in South Waziristan, and the deployment of hundreds of additional troops to the troubled region in the last few days. In response, Pakistan-based Taliban have launched multiple suicide and bomb attacks in two major cities and threatened to further target others.

A local official in South Waziristan -- who spoke on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to comment -- told World Politics Review that security forces killed six militants and injured several others in the Chakmalai and Siplatoi areas of the Mehsud tribal territory last Tuesday. On Sunday, 25 more Taliban militants -- including a senior leader, Miraj Burki -- died in clashes with Pakistani security forces in Burki's strongholds in the Spinkai Raghzai and Tiarza areas of South Waziristan.

A resident of Jandola, interviewed by telephone, said that hundreds of troops along with heavy military hardware, including tanks and artillery pieces, were seen transiting the town last Tuesday. The troops were moving towards the Mehsud area, the stronghold of Baitullah Mehsud, head of Pakistan's largest militant group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Baitullah's operational commander, Qari Hussain, is close to the al-Qaida leadership in the area, so the latter is expected to fully back the Taliban militants in the fighting with government forces.

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