Archive for the ‘Bajur’ Category

Pakistan targets militants in 2nd tribal area

November 16, 2008

Pakistani helicopter gunships engaged in a bitter offensive against militants in a northwest tribal region struck targets in a neighboring area Sunday, a sign that the conflict may be widening to other parts of the rugged zone bordering Afghanistan.

Elsewhere in the northwest, Pakistan temporarily suspended oil tankers and trucks carrying sealed containers from using the Khyber Pass, a move that put pressure on a vital supply line for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The media center for the paramilitary Frontier Corps confirmed Sunday that helicopter gunships, backed by artillery, have been pounding suspected insurgent hideouts in Mohmand tribal area since Saturday.

By ASIF SHAHZAD, Associated Press Writer Asif Shahzad, Associated Press Writer

Mohmand is south of Bajur tribal region, an al-Qaida and Taliban stronghold where the military says a three-month-old offensive has killed more than 1,600 suspected militants.

In this Nov 10, 2008 file photo, Pakistani tribal people stand ...
Pakistani tribal people stand near an armored car reportedly hijacked by militants in Khyber region of Landikotel, 34 miles (55 kilometers) northwest of Peshawar, Pakistan. An official said security forces are hunting militants who hijacked 13 trucks carrying military vehicles and other supplies for foreign troops in Afghanistan.(AP Photo/FILE)

Speculation has abounded that upon taking control of Bajur, the military would set its sights on Mohmand.

The U.S. has praised Pakistani military offensives against insurgents — a separate one is underway in the northwest’s Swat Valley — saying they have helped reduce violence on the Afghan side of the border. American officials have long blamed militants based in Pakistan for planning attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

An official with the media center, who insisted on anonymity in line with military rules, said the strikes were not part of a separate offensive for Mohmand. He would not specify where in Mohmand the aircraft had attacked.

“It is the same operation. There is no new operation,” the official said. The Taliban fighters “had substantial casualties.”

He did not rule out the possibility of militants leaving Bajur for Mohmand, but added, “Wherever they are, wherever they have strong pockets, we have to and we will flush them out.”

The suspension of specific vehicles along the Khyber Pass comes just days after a band of militants hijacked around a dozen trucks whose load included Humvees intended for foreign forces in Afghanistan.

The hijacking near the entrance of the famed pass highlighted the vulnerability of a critical supply line for the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan, whose materials are regularly shipped through Pakistan in unmarked, sealed containers.

Government official Bakhtiar Khan would not say Sunday if trucks destined for American and NATO forces were the target of the suspension imposed late Saturday. However, he said security concerns had prompted the suspension, but that it could be lifted as early as Monday.

“The suspension was made to review the security arrangements and that has already been done,” he said. “Along with increasing the security and establishing more checkpoints, we have issued orders to deal with attackers and snatchers more strictly.”

Khan said security forces have been told they can fire upon groups of armed men trying to attack or snatch shipments.

Deteriorating security conditions in the northwest are among myriad problems facing U.S.-allied Pakistan. The South Asian nation also is saddled with a sinking economy, and it is taking steps to borrow $7.6 billion from the International Monetary Fund.

Nearly 190,000 flee fighting in Pakistan

October 15, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Nearly 190,000 people have reportedly fled fighting between Pakistani troops and extremists near the border with Afghanistan, the United Nations said yesterday as fresh clashes in the area killed 17 extremists.

A Pakistani police commando leads a convoy of armed Pakistani ...

A Pakistani police commando leads a convoy of armed Pakistani people on patrol against Islamic militants in Mamoon Khataki Shabqader on the border of the tribal district of Mohmand Agency on October 9, 2008. A Polish engineer kidnapped two weeks ago in Pakistan by suspected Taliban militants appeared in a video address Tuesday urging the release of jailed Taliban fighters.(AFP/File/Tariq Mahmood)

Fighting is spreading across Pakistan’s rugged northwest as the government cracks down on insurgents blamed for attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan and a campaign of suicide bombings against military and Western targets within Pakistan.

Most of the clashes are taking place in Bajur, where the Pakistani military launched a big offensive in early August.

The U.N. refugee agency said 20,000 Pakistanis and Afghans had fled Bajur into eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province since the fighting began.

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