Jan 11 2006

Pakistan Cleaning House of Taliban

Published by at 10:46 am under All General Discussions,Pakistan

Pakistan has had a sustained house cleaning effort going on in the region near their northern border with Afghanistan to clear out Taliban and Al Qaeda:

Militants clashed with Pakistani forces in a troubled tribal zone bordering Afghanistan early Tuesday, leaving seven paramilitary troops and 14 suspected insurgents dead, officials said.

The firefight was one of the biggest for months in the rugged area, where soldiers are trying to flush out Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters who fled Afghanistan after the US-led invasion in late 2001.

It started when “miscreants” launched rockets at a checkpoint in Sarbandji village near Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan region, shortly after midnight, a security official told reporters.

Seven soldiers died but their colleagues immediately returned fire, sparking a gunbattle that lasted for 90 minutes, the official said on condition of anonymity. Fourteen militants were killed in the exchange of fire including a local Taliban commander called Bilal, a military official based in the northwestern city of Peshawar said later.

“Some are locals and some are foreigners. We are trying to find out their nationalities and identities,” the army official said.

The situation in North Waziristan remained tense on Tuesday and gunship helicopters hovered in search of militants, the official and witnesses said. The clash comes days after eight other Pakistani paramilitary soldiers and eight villagers were killed in two separate incidents in North Waziristan.

And the Taliban seem bent on demonstrating their penchant for caveman thinking

About 1,600 people were killed last year in the area along the Afghan-Pakistan frontier, as well as other parts of southern Afghanistan, which was hit by the deadliest fighting since the Taliban was ousted in 2001.

In the context of the escalating violence, the remarks by President Hamid Karzai in an interview Sunday with The Associated Press about possible talks with Omar were seen as a softening of the government’s previous policy of rejecting negotiations with top leaders of the hard-line militia.

But a statement attributed to the fugitive leader and faxed to AP made clear there was no chance of talks, even though it made no direct reference to Karzai’s comments.

The statement compared the rebellion in Afghanistan with Iraq, saying: “In Afghanistan they will face the same fate very soon. With the beginning of the new year, Afghan groups and mujahedeen will intensify their attacks. Their techniques will improve.”

Also Monday, suspected Taliban rebels attacked two coed schools in southern Kandahar province, a former rebel stronghold. The rebels burned books, chairs and tables, provincial education director Hayatullah Rafiqi said.

Security guards at both schools were tied up and locked in classrooms in the raids, but they were unhurt, he said.

The attack was the latest in a series of assaults that have forced many schools to close. The insurgents claim that educating girls is against Islam and they even oppose government-funded schools for boys because the schools teach subjects besides religion.

Attacking schools? It is illegal and immoral to teach girls?

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