Amid some of the heaviest fighting in 11-day war campaign, Pakistani troops on Tuesday pushed deeper into South Waziristan approaching the militant hubs of Makeen, Ladha and Sararogha and the areas held by Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud killing 42 militants.
Advancing from three directions on the militant hubs of Sararogha, Makeen and Ladha, the Army used fighter jets and helicopter gunships as they approached these Taliban strongholds. The Army began moving into territory held by Tehrik-e-Taliban chief Mehsud from Razmak in North Waziristan.
With the killing of 42 militants -- the highest so far in the offensive -- the Taliban death toll has risen to more than 240 and in the fighting today the Army claimed to have killed seven foreign militants, mostly Uzbeks. The figures cannot be independently verified as journalists have no access to the conflict zone.
In a move to outmanoeuvre the well entrenched Taliban who had dug fox holes and turned village houses into fortified bunkers, the security forces today launched an assault on them from the behind from the Ramzak axis with some of the heaviest fighting in the past 24 hours reported from around the militant stronghold of Makeen.Thirty militants were killed in this region, the military said in a statement.
After capturing the strategic mountain tops and villages, the Army is now attempting to encircle the Taliban bastions of Makeen and Ladha.
Experts have said the troops are likely to face stiff resistance in the Taliban strongholds of Ladha and Makeen, where a large number of militants are believed to be holed up along with elements of al-Qaida.
Troops also encircled Nawazkot, one of the Taliban main regional stronghold after pitched battles in which 12 militants were killed. Clashes were also reported on the approaches to Sararogha in the east and Kanigurram to the South, close to the Afghan border. The Army today said only one soldier was killed in fighting in South Waziristan raising the security forces toll to 31.
Thirty-thousand Pakistani troops comprising two divisions are taking part in the offensive in north-west part of the country and pitted against them 10,000-12,000 Taliban fighters, but sources said that the offensive had slowed down as field commanders were asking for induction of more troops for a campaign to be brought to its successful conclusion.
Meanwhile in an ambush in Islamabad, suspected motorcycle-borne militants today made a brazen attempt to assassinate another senior Pakistan army officer, raking his vehicle with indiscriminate fire, but the Brigadier escaped unhurt, in an attack similar to one just five days ago that resulted in killing of a army officer and a soldier.
Two gunmen, waiting outside the home of Brigadier Waqar Ahmed in the city, opened fire as he emerged in his staff car at around 9 am along with his mother and raked s vehicle with automatic weapons fire, but he escaped unhurt, police and witnesses said. PTI