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Pak Army Shelling In Mehsud Areas, Taliban Offer Stiff Resistance

Pak troops were shelling Mehsud areas with artillery gunds in Razmak, Wana, Jandola, Malzai and Sarwakai  of South Waziristan, local official reported, according to a report by Irfan Burki and Daud Khattak of The News,

PTI [ Updated: October 21, 2009 11:01 IST ]
pak army shelling in mehsud areas taliban offer stiff
pak army shelling in mehsud areas taliban offer stiff resistance

Pak troops were shelling Mehsud areas with artillery gunds in Razmak, Wana, Jandola, Malzai and Sarwakai  of South Waziristan, local official reported, according to a report by Irfan Burki and Daud Khattak of The News, Islamabad. 

Fierce fighting continues in Kotkai area where Taliban fighters are offering stiff resistance to advancing troops on the fourth day of the army offensive titled Rah-e-Nijat.

Seven Pak soldiers were killed and as many were injured in an attack on a security post  in Kotkai area. This is the village of Taliban commander Hakimullah Mahsud and his key lieutenant Qari Hussain.

20 Taliban militants were killed in fighting in Kotkai.

Kotkai village has a population of 5,000 to 6,000 and majority of the people have fled the area after the launch of the army offensive. 

Troops have advanced towards Mandana, Sheikh Ziarat and Murghi Band areas from Spinkai Raghzai side and have secured the area up to Murghi Band.

Army soldiers also advanced towards Srarogha after circling Kotkai village and clashes with militants continued throughout the  day on Tuesday. Clashes were also reported in Sherwangai during their advance from Wana towards Shakai.

Sources said after clearing Khaisoor, the troops were now moving towards the villages of Chalweshtai, Kaniguram, Sam and Ladha. They said the forces would establish their positions in a plain area on top of a hill in Asman Manza, Kaniguram.

In their advance from Razmak side, the troops have cleared the area of Nawazkot and on way to reach Makeen. Sources said most of advance had been made from Wana side in the past four days of the operation.

The Sherwangai area is located some 25 kilometres from Razmak on Wana-Razmak road. The village of Chalweshtai is located at a three kilometres distance from Sherwangai while the villages of Kaniguram, Sam and Asman Manza are at seven-kilometre distance from Chalweshtai. Kaniguram is at seven kilometres from Ladha while the distance between Ladha and Makeen is also seven kilometres. The town of Razmak is located at five kilometres distance from Makeen.

Taliban spokesman accused media of giving only the government version.  He claimed nearly 40 soldiers were killed in an attack at a security post in Kotkai area.

Thousands of displaced villagers continue to arrive in Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and North Waziristan.  Many homeless people are living under the open sky.

Hundreds of families are stranded in the conflict-zone as all roads are closed at different locations due to fighting.

Meanwhile,  Pakistan Army has struck deals to keep two powerful tribal chiefs — Mulla Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur — from joining the battle against the government, officials told AP on Tuesday. .

Under the terms agreed to about three weeks ago, Mulla Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur will stay out of the current fight in parts of South Waziristan. They will also allow the army to move through their own lands unimpeded, giving the military additional fronts from which to attack the Taliban.

In exchange, the army will ease patrols and bombings in the lands controlled by the two warlords, two Pakistani intelligence officials based in the region told AP.

Pakistani security analysts said the army had little choice but to cut deals with rival Taliban factions to have a chance of success. The campaign will likely be far tougher than in the Swat Valley.

If the army opens up multiple fronts, they will be deluged, said Khalid Aziz, a former top administrator in the northwest. ‘It's like having a patient suffering from multiple diseases — you tend to treat those that are life-threatening first', he said.

Hafiz Gul Bahadurís area of influence lies in North Waziristan just across the border from South Waziristan. He and his followers come from a different tribe than the Mahsuds, who make up the majority of the Pakistani Taliban. Mulla Nazir controls territory in South Waziristan.

Mulla Nazir is an old-time opponent of the Mahsud tribe, while Hafiz Gul Bahadur is reportedly angry over the appointment of Hakimullah as Taliban chief. Being able to move unimpeded through their territory gives the army a massive boost in its current campaign.

Army spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said there was no agreement with the two men, but there is an understanding with them that they will not interfere in this war. He said the army had to talk to the devilî to isolate its main target. Asked whether the agreements were holding, he said: Obviously, they are not coming to rescue or to help the Taliban.

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