Pakistan army captures key militant town in South Waziristan offensive

October 24, 2009

(ChattahBox) — After days of fierce fighting, Pakistan’s army says it has captured the hometown of the country’s Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, in its first major prize in a U.S.-backed anti-Taliban offensive along the Afghan border in South Waziristan.  Pakistan’s 8-day-old offensive in the Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold of South Waziristan a rugged stretch of land and part of Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal belt, is considered a critical test in efforts to stop the spread of violent Islamist insurgency in the nuclear-armed country. But it has been met with a wave of retaliatory attacks by militants this month that have killed some 200 people. The U.S. military is providing intelligence and surveillance video from unmanned aircraft to the Pakistani army in this latest offensive, signifying the deepest American involvement yet in a Pakistani military campaign, officials said.

Also in the northwest of Pakistan Saturday, officials say a suspected U.S. missile strike has killed at least 14 people in the Bajaur tribal region. A government official said the attack targeted a house believed to be used by senior Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir, who escaped the strike.

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