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.

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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs