Pakistani troops enter another Taliban-held town


S-Wazir-troops-APP.JPG

Pakistani troops have entered another Taliban center in the war-torn tribal agency of South Waziristan. The Army said it has encountered "heavy clashes and street to street fighting" as its troops have entered the town of Ladha, which it described as a "stronghold of terrorists." The military reported that 10 Taliban fighters were killed in the town.

Ladha is one of five major Taliban towns in South Waziristan. The military has already taken control of Kotkai and Kanigoram, is currently clearing Sararogha, and has surrounded Makeen. The military also reported that 16 Taliban fighters were killed during fighting in Sararogha.

The Pakistani military said 30 Taliban fighters have been killed during operations over the past 24 hours. No soldiers were reported killed, but eight were reported wounded. The military now claims that nearly 380 Taliban fighters and 35 soldiers have been killed since the operation to defeat the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan was launched on Oct. 15.

Yesterday, the Taliban denied that their forces have suffered heavy losses, and claimed to have conducted a tactical retreat in order to lure the Army into a trap. The Taliban are preparing to fight "a long war," Taliban spokesman Tariq Khan told the Associated Press.

Skirmishes in Hangu, suicide bombers killed in Kohat

In the nearby district of Hangu, Pakistani troops killed four Taliban fighters after they attacked a security outpost on the border with the tribal agency of Kurram. Pakistani troops and the Taliban have clashed in Kurram and Arakzai over the past week.

In Kohat, two suicide bombers were killed after one of the bombers accidentally detonated his vest. The bomber triggered the explosion when the motorcycle he was driving on hit a bump in the road. The bombers were driving on road near a Pakistani Air Force base.



Advertisement:


READER COMMENTS: "Pakistani troops enter another Taliban-held town"

Posted by JT at November 4, 2009 5:56 PM ET:

Bill,

Do you know the populations of these towns?

Ladha: street to street search and clear in progress.

Kotkai: street to street clearing is done.

Kanigoram: same as Kotkai

Sararogha: street to street search and clear in progress

Makeen: surrounded only.

Posted by steve m at November 4, 2009 7:19 PM ET:

I love the end of this article, it is not often when i can chuckle while reading something on this site. I also just saw on the news how two kasmiri militants were killed by a bear. Allah(praise be upon him) must not be on their side, then again, India or Mossad could have had something to do with it too!

Posted by steve m at November 4, 2009 7:22 PM ET:

I always wondered what uzbeks were doing in pak, here is a short article on that subject.
http://blogs.nybooks.com/post/233160623/al-qaeda-the-uzbek-branch-in-pakistan

Posted by Minnor at November 5, 2009 1:08 AM ET:

Ladha and Makeen will be the last to fall. A victory in South Waziristan, similar to that in Swat, will crash the morale of Taliban sympathisers and their "invincible" tag.

Posted by Civy at November 5, 2009 3:44 AM ET:

It appears from this (rather self-congratulatory) report from DAWN, that the Pak army has rediscovered the wisdom of owning the high ground before advancing down a valley road.

This same tactic was the salvation of the USMC's "Frozen Chosin" over a half-century ago. With airpower, they mauled 7 Chinese divisions so badly they were never reconstituted, even while outnumbered ~ 10:1 and surrounded. In the martial arts especially, history is a valuable weapon.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provinces/12-army+close+to+winding+up+first+phase+of+operation--bi-09

Posted by Viliger at November 5, 2009 10:27 AM ET:

Minnor, one has appreciated over time your steady contributions to emerging tactics and thank you for that.

Curious of what your strategic insight is as to whats really going on in this rather 'quiet' war... (I mean if this was always destined to be such a cake-walk, why did it take so long for the army to move, esp after BM's death when the leadership was in some disarray?)

And if we look beyond the ends of our nose, where do we go from here? Is N waziristan merely wishful thinking?

Posted by David m at November 5, 2009 2:05 PM ET:

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 11/05/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Posted by Civy at November 5, 2009 3:31 PM ET:

Interesting to note, in the Dawn article, that the Mesud seasonally abandon S Waziristan due to the harsh winters. The Pak Army seems to have taken a page from Taliban strategy in attacking COP Keating - take it as they are planning to leave.

The Taliban should find taking that terrain back from the Pak Army in spring much more difficult than defending it over the last few weeks. Winter is on the side of those with the best logistics, and the government has the advantage there.

We should assume the Taliban will try to interdict Pak Army logistics come spring, so road-building and borrowing of IED "proof" vehicles from the US should be anticipated.

As in Chechnya, the insurgents must break contact quickly if they are to survive. Harassment will not lead to victory if the larger force is persistent and determined.

Let's hope there is the political courage to bring the "lawless" tribal areas, finally, under regular Pak state governance. It seems clear that the bulk of the Mesud Tribe wants proper government. It would be a shame to miss this opportunity.

Let's hope the Pak Army's morale and ambition will take them wherever the terrorists settle. Given the striking difference in methods and results, I can only conclude the Pak Army has had a significant change in leadership. If so, well done!

Posted by Neo at November 5, 2009 10:42 PM ET:

The Pakistani army around Kaniguram is operating in Baddar river valley. The Baddar river and Tauda China rivers join at the village of Dwa Toi to form the Tak Zam river which eventually reaches the Indus. It appears that the Pakistani army controls much of the valley upstream of the Ladha fort past Kaniguram and Sherwangai and upstream into the mountains. I am not sure how far the army has consolidated it's position upstream toward the high mountains.

There are two high ridges on either side of the Baddar River Valley. The Pakistani Army controls parts of both. Above Kaniguram is Asman Manja ridge which forms part of a semi-circular arc of ridges that commands the north side of the Baddar river. It would be desirable to control that entire ridge system.

Hope I got all that right. The best map of the area I have found so far is a sketch map on page three of this document. http://www.newman-family-tree.net/RE_Journal_1984.pdf The document details the British military expedition into the area in 1937-1939.

Posted by Minnor at November 5, 2009 11:26 PM ET:

@Viliger, thanks for the compliments. Waziristan operation was put off because that would lead to terrorism in Pak cities by Taliban allies and sympathiser groups.

S.Waziristan being last conventionally controlled Taliban area in pakistan, they will permanently lose capacity of large scale manufacturing of ammunition. Even if Pak army/ISI allows militancy anywhere, it would restrict it to small fire like AKs and Grenades.

Posted by Viliger at November 6, 2009 9:52 AM ET:

Minnor, thank you for that insightful point on their mfg capacity.

As you are aware there is a lot of speculation that emerges in discussion here as a lot of commenters, incl myself, are not intimately familiar with what goes on, on the ground. Also there is a deep mistrust of info from the ISPR--the recent claims of indian support are a case in point.

As such, its very helpful to hear from one who obviously has real local insight not just on the territories but also into the minds of the operators involved.