The Pakistani Army is moving troops into Arakzai to battle the Taliban, according to reports from the region.
For the third time in the past week, the military engaged the Taliban in the Arakzai and Hangu region. In the Shahu Khel region in the district of Hangu, 13 Taliban fighters were killed and seven troops were wounded during clashes, the military reported. The military also “destroyed 17 installations, including a communications tower, an FM radio station, and a training camp,” in the other part of the Shahu Khel region that is located in Arakzai, Dawn reported.
The military is planning to take the Taliban stronghold in Shahu Khel in Arakzai within the next week, a Pakistani official told Dawn. The time frame indicates the military does not intend to clear large areas of Arakzai.
Over the weekend, the Pakistani Air Force pounded Taliban camps and strongholds in Arakzai, killing 11 Taliban fighters. Also, seven Taliban fighters and a commander were captured after ambushing a military convoy in Hangu.
Last week, 30 Taliban fighters were reported killed after Pakistani strike aircraft, Army attack helicopters, and artillery batteries struck enemy hideouts and supply depots in Arakzai.
Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, an alliance of several Taliban groups operating in the northwest, commanded Taliban forces in Arakzai before taking control of the group in August. Hakeemullah declared sharia, or Islamic law, in Arakzai in December 2008. Now Taliban fighters fleeing the operation in South Waziristan are regrouping in Arakzai as well as in Khyber and North and South Waziristan, and are launching attacks against the government from these areas.
The Taliban also battled the military in the northernmost tribal agency of Bajaur. The military claimed 18 Taliban fighters were killed in airstrikes in the Khar and Mamond regions after Taliban forces massed to strike checkpoints in the region.
The military previously claimed the Taliban were defeated in Bajaur and said the group was ejected from the agency. The Taliban, under the command of Faqir Mohammed, regrouped in the Mamond area and continued to attack the military while assassinating tribal leaders willing to back the government.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.