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250 Killed In Continued Fighting In Waziristan

From the AFP:

Pakistan fighting kills 250, civilians flee

by Hasbanullah Khan

Pakistani jets pounded militant hideouts near a troubled tribal town for a third day Tuesday as officials said around 250 people had died in some of the heaviest clashes since 2001.

The fighting has forced thousands to flee from Mir Ali, a town in lawless North Waziristan district that President Pervez Musharraf has previously pinpointed as a den of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network.

Residents said dozens of people including women and children were killed in the latest air strikes in the rugged region bordering Afghanistan, but security officials insisted the dead were all Islamist fighters…

Chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said at least 150 militants and 45 soldiers had been killed in battles that first erupted on Sunday after pro-Taliban rebels ambushed an army convoy.

Another two troops died in a roadside bombing on Tuesday, a statement said.

“There were militant hideouts in the area near Mir Ali, aircraft targeted these hideouts on Tuesday but I don’t have the number of casualties from that,” Arshad told AFP.

Security officials in the northwestern city of Peshawar said another 50 militants were killed in Tuesday’s airstrikes and a similar number were injured.

Residents, however, said bombs dropped by fighter jets hit the main bazaar in Khedar Khel, a village near Mir Ali.

“Some 50 people including women and children have died in the bombing,” resident Noor Mohammad, 45, told AFP by telephone.

“The number of injured is even more.”

Most of the 50,000 inhabitants of Mir Ali had fled after more than 50 houses were damaged and the army placed the town under virtual curfew, residents said.

“Our homes have been damaged severely, most of the families have migrated to relatives’ homes in neighbouring towns,” tribesman Faridullah Khan said as military helicopters circled overhead.

Desperate locals used mosque loudspeakers to beg the military not to fire at their homes, tribal elder Malik Iqbal Khan said.

Army spokesman Arshad said that tribal elders had called a council or jirga involving tribesmen, militant representatives and the local administration in a bid to halt the violence.

But the military indicated that it was in no mood to compromise.

“The army is fighting well-trained militants. There are linkages with Afghanistan. Many of them are getting money and weapons from across the border,” Arshad said…

In the latest violence, 17 people were injured when a bomb exploded in a music shop in Peshawar on Tuesday, police said.

The fighting in the last three days is some of the bloodiest since Musharraf pushed thousands of troops into the tribal zone to tackle militants who fled into Pakistan after the US-led invasion to topple the Taliban regime.

Pro-Taliban militants are also holding more than 200 Pakistani soldiers in nearby South Waziristan district since abducting them in late August.

With his mandate, it looks like Mr. Musharraf is taking off the gloves.

It looks like he finally realizes that you cannot negotiate, cannot make treaties with these terrorist criminals.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, October 9th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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