Most towns in South Waziristan captured: Pak Army



"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.

The 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. Abbas said that the Army had captured most of the populated centres in South Waziristan and completely crippled Taliban supply lines. "Major towns and population centres are now firmly under Army control," he said.

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. 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.

Shafiq also claimed that large number of Uzbek and Arab militants were present in the area and several had been killed in the ongoing operations. 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.

Overall, according to Brigadier Abbas 500 militants had 70 soldiers have been killed since the military campaign began on October 17. But, for the control of Sararogha, the Brigade commander Shafiq said only seven soldiers were killed and 14 wounded, while they took a toll of 180 militants.

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