1 The Long War Journal: Fighting spreads in Pakistan's northwest
Written by Bill Roggio on October 31, 2009 8:15 AM to 1 The Long War Journal
Available online at: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/10/fighting_spreads_in.php
The Pakistani military and the Taliban continue to battle throughout the Northwest Frontier Province as the Army continues its slow advance in South Waziristan. Clashes have been reported in Arakzai and Khyber, where the military suffered the loss of seven troops in an IED attack.
The military said 21 Taliban fighters and two soldiers have been killed during fighting in South Waziristan. The military claimed its forces are just two miles outside the town of Sararogha, where South Waziristan Taliban chieftain Waliur Rehman Mehsud is said to be directing operations. Pakistani troops are advancing on Sararogha from Jandola in the southeast.
Pakistani troops are also close to taking the South Waziristan town of Kanigoram, a large town between Shakai and the Taliban stronghold of Ladha. Two days ago, the military said troops had surrounded the town from three directions, but reports from the region have dried up. Uzbek fighters from the Islamic Jihad Union and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are known to be based in Kanigoram. The military is advancing on Kanigoram and Ladha from the southwest.
In the North, the military appears to have made little progress in its advance on Makeen. The military is pushing toward Makeen from Ramzak, which is just six miles away. But the Army must pass through difficult mountainous terrain to reach Makeen.
The military has claimed that more than 300 Taliban fighters and just 34 soldiers have been killed in the battle to eject the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan from South Waziristan. The Taliban have denied taking such high casualties, and claimed to have killed 45 Pakistani soldiers in a single engagement during the battle at Kotkai, a Taliban stronghold that switched sides twice before the Army took control last weekend.
Arakzai and Kurram
The military launched a series of air and artillery strikes in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of Arakzai. Pakistani Army artillery and Air Force jets pounded "13 hideouts and training camps" and a sharia court in Mamozai in Arakzai, killing 12 Taliban fighters, Dawn reported.
In Kurram, the military launched air and artillery strikes after detecting a Taliban force moving "towards the mountains of Tora Bora." No casualties were mentioned, but reports indicate that 11 Taliban camps and safe houses were destroyed.
In Khyber, seven Frontier Corps troops were killed and 10 more were wounded after the Taliban detonated an IED on a military convoy in the Bara region. The attack took place just nine miles from Peshawar, Dawn reported.
Last summer, the military launched an operation against the Lashkar-i-Islam in Khyber and claimed to have killed more than 200 of the pro-Taliban extremists. The Lashkar-i-Islam and the Taliban have been attacking NATO's supply columns that pass through Peshawar and Khyber on the way to Kabul, Afghanistan. Since security was stepped up in the region, attacks on the convoys have abated. But the Taliban continues to launch massive suicide attacks and small-scale paramilitary operations in the city of Peshawar, the provincial capital.