Taliban Bastion Sararogha Under Pak Army's Control

Pakistani troops on Tuesday consolidated their positions around several former Taliban strongholds in the lawless South Waziristan tribal region and "completely cleared" Sararogha, once a main militant bastion while tightened noose around Kaniguram and Makeen.
taliban bastion sararogha under pak army s...
PTI November 17, 2009 21:16 IST

Pakistani troops on Tuesday consolidated their positions around several former Taliban strongholds in the lawless South Waziristan tribal region and "completely cleared" Sararogha, once a main militant bastion while tightened noose around Kaniguram and Makeen.

Troops captured a strategic area near the former militant base of Sararogha and cleared Khazhikai and Shuza Sar villages, where several Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and weapons were recovered. "Sararogha has been completely cleared and is fully under control of security forces," the military said in a statement.

Soldiers also consolidated their positions in areas around the former militant strongholds of Kaniguram and Makeen. Fifteen compounds were cleared and a tunnel system used by militants was destroyed during a search operation at Torwam near Kaniguram.

Brigadier Shafiq, Pakistan Army commander of Sararogha claimed large number of Uzbek militants had been killed in the fighting today. He also said forces had seized 70 landmines and 21 suicide blast jackets.

"Pak Army took control of the town which once was the operational headquarters of slain Taliban leaders Baitullah Mehsud, after five days of operation," he said.   Troops "responded effectively" when militants targeted them with rockets near Kaniguram. For the second consecutive day, the military did not report any casualties among militants during the operations in South Waziristan.

The myth has been broken that this area will be the graveyard for the Army," military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told foreign and local journalists who were flown to Sararogha, once a Taliban stronghold.

he Army claimed that Sararogha believed to be a bastion of Uzbek and Arab fighters had been captured after a five day fight in which 180 Taliban militants were killed, Geo TV reported. "Major towns and population centres are now firmly under Army control," he said.  

 Meanwhile, at least one person was killed and many others injured today when unidentified assailants targeted a senior police official with a roadside bomb in Quetta city in southwest Pakistan.  Deputy Inspector General (operations) Nizam Shahid Durrani was among those who were injured in the attack that occurred at 10 am local time.   The Pakistani military says over 545 militants and more than 60 soldiers have died so far in fighting in the tribal region though these figures cannot be independently verified as reporters have no access to the conflict zone.

The claims by the Pakistani Army spokesman that its troops had cleared most of the region come amidst media reports from Washington that the US is pressing Islamabad to expand and reorient its military campaign in the area.

The American administration, according to New York Times wants the Pakistan Army to forge ahead into North Waziristan. The US also wants Pakistan Army to support American military campaign across the border in Afghanistan by keeping up the pressure on Taliban and al-Qaeda in FATA.

Sararogha was described as almost a ghost town by the scribes who said the streets were destroyed, markets reduced to rubble with hardly a soul around. Before the conflict the town had a population of 10,000.

He said Army units had reached the village of Janata, about six kilometres beyond the town and were locked in a fierce fight with the militants, mostly foreigners.  The army mobilised over 30,000 troops last month for Operation Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Salvation), which is aimed at flushing out an estimated 10,000 Taliban and foreign fighters from South Waziristan.   Security forces also continued search and clearance operations in the northwestern Swat valley, where two militants were arrested while another surrendered to authorities. PTI

 
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