Pakistan PM: South Waziristan Offensive Successful, Ongoing

He says Taliban militant strongholds have been captured and a large quantity of weapons seized

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (file photo)
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (file photo)

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Pakistan's prime minister says the military's offensive in the northwestern tribal region of South Waziristan is ongoing and so far has been successful, with Taliban militant strongholds captured and a large quantity of weapons seized.

Yousuf Raza Gilani backtracked on comments he made in Lahore earlier on Saturday, in which he said the military campaign was completed and troops could now shift their focus to the nearby Orakzai tribal region.

The prime minister later told reporters in the eastern city of Karachi that the South Wazirstan offensive was continuing, and he could not give a timeframe on when it would end.

Mr. Gilani said the government will chase militants if they take refuge in other places like Orakzai, where the Pakistani Taliban leadership is believed to have fled from South Waziristan. 

Pakistan's military says some 600 Taliban militants and 80 soldiers have been killed in the South Waziristan operation since it was launched two months ago.

The United Nations says more than 40,000 civilians have fled Orakzai in the weeks since the offensive began.

The operation also prompted a series of retaliatory bombings that have killed hundreds of people across the country.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials have identified Saleh al-Somali as the senior al-Qaida operative they believe was killed in a drone attack in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday.

U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they suspect al-Somali was responsible for planning terrorist attacks in the United States, Africa and Europe.  His death has not been confirmed. 

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