Pakistan troops set to storm Waziristan

The army announcement came as the ongoing operations in Swat and two other adjacent districts continued to gather momentum, with troops killing 13 Taliban militants and destroying a terrorist training centre in fresh fighting in Swat and nearby areas. It apprehended three others in a campaign, which the forces say may be tapering after decisive blows to the militants.

Major offensive

Army opened heavy artillery barrage on the towns of Kotkai, Spainkai Raghzi and Srarogha areas which lie on the fringes of the troubled Waziristan as they set up road blocks on all major roads into the area, apparently signalling that preparations of a major offensive were on.

“Government has conveyed to the army its decision to launch military operations against Baitullah Mehsud and his network,” military spokesman Major Gen Athar Abbas told newsmen adding, “we are making the preparations.” As Abbas said, the army had “received requisite orders” to launch the action. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said, “it has not officially started yet.”

Preparations

According to military sources, though the go-ahead has been given, the army would require some time and planning to go into the area where an estimated 8,000-12,000 Taliban, al-Qaeda and other insurgent group fighters are holed up.

Islamabad will have to work with the United States and Afghan militaries to work out a strategy to put two-pronged pressure on the radical terrorists, leaving them little chance of escape.

Army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has denounced terrorists as enemies of Pakistan and Islam, and vowed to wipe them out. Kayani denounced Mehsud and Taliban commander in Swat Maulana Fazlullah saying they had nothing to do with Islam.

The army is already claiming victory in the Swat campaign which they say is about to come to an end.

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