News / Asia

Taliban Hideouts Revealed as Pakistan Army Seizes Redoubt

Pakistani soldier stands by ammunition seized during a military operation against Taliban militants, Miranshah, North Waziristan, July 9, 2014.
Pakistani soldier stands by ammunition seized during a military operation against Taliban militants, Miranshah, North Waziristan, July 9, 2014.
Reuters

The Pakistani Taliban have abandoned their last key stronghold and booby traps and explosives littering their hideouts now present the main danger to the soldiers who control the territory, military officials say.

Instead of black-clad militants, uniformed men and the odd lone donkey wander the streets of Miranshah, the capital of Pakistan's northwestern region of North Waziristan.

For years, Pakistan's allies urged the South Asian nation to strike against militant strongholds on the Afghan border. Now, as NATO troops withdraw from neighboring Afghanistan, the army launched a campaign last month to push out the militants.

A rare visit this week to Miranshah, organized by the military, showed how tightly the Taliban had held the frontier town in its grip.

“It is a city waiting to blow up, that's how much explosive there is here, in homes, in shops, buried under the ground,” said senior commander Brigadier Tahir Malik, standing outside one of 11 bomb making plants the army says it has seized.

The explosives factory is piled high with hundreds of metal cylinders and other containers the militants used to make bombs.

Ghost town

Apart from soldiers, the city is a ghost town. The army ordered residents out before the offensive; some left food on their tables as they fled.

Entire neighborhoods are rubble after caches of explosives detonated and jets pounded suspected militant hideouts.

Under the destruction lies a sophisticated network of tunnels used to smuggle militants and weapons out of the view of hovering drones.

At the Gulpakhel mosque, subterranean corridors snaked past rooms dotted with prayer mats and blankets before ending at a secret door hidden by a bookshelf. Behind lay rooms that had housed senior Taliban commanders, the military said.

Sleeping mats were scattered before freshly painted walls fitted with an air-conditioner and a sound system and lit by a six-bulb chandelier.

“Even I don't get to live like this here, with all these comforts,” said a colonel accompanying the visitors.

Cannibal market

In an area nicknamed Cannibal Market, a purple sheet shrouding a small wooden platform was the site of the Taliban's public beheadings, the military said.

The militants used to leave bodies to rot on the road, as a grim warning of the movement's justice. Former residents of the town confirmed the account.

Before the offensive, the Pakistan army confined itself to its sprawling headquarters in Miranshah, only making weekly supply runs.

But after almost a month of air strikes by fighter jets and a ground offensive using tanks and heavily armed soldiers to search from house to house, the military says it controls 80 percent of the town.

So far, the military says it has killed 400 militants, but has not followed its usual custom of releasing names or displaying bodies.

“This is not a swordfight, where one cuts off the head and presents it as evidence,” said General Zafarullah Khan, commander of the operation.

With the region sealed off by the military, there is no way to verify the casualty figures.

The army won't say when it might wrap up the operation, and let residents return home.

But the generals are confident they will succeed.

“The challenges we are facing in these areas are huge and we are deliberately being very slow,” General Asim Bajwa, the head of the military's media wing, told Reuters.

“Our goal is to establish the writ of the state and to never let these terrorists ever come back here again.”

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Seth Sarwar from: Boston
July 11, 2014 7:34 PM
Congratulations bravo now let's do it in Karachi Don't allow daily speech from out of Pakistan. Help Pakistan

by: meanbill from: USA
July 11, 2014 1:13 PM
Like in all great battles, you give months of warnings, so the enemy can withdrawal and you can claim victory, without any real battles or loss of men, and after the Pakistani army leaves, the Taliban will return, and both sides can claim victory.... because the more things change, the more they stay the same, because the army can't stay there, or the Taliban will go to where the army came from?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs