A suspected U.S drone attack in a remote border region of Pakistan is
said to have killed at least four militants believed to have links to
the Taliban and al-Qaida networks. The Pakistani military says it has
killed 16 Taliban militants in the ongoing Swat offensive and has
tightened the noose around the key rebel commander in the valley.
Analysts say that killings and arrests of some of the top Taliban
commanders in recent days appears to have dealt a crippling blow to the
insurgents in Pakistan.
The early morning missile strike in the
tribal region known as North Waziristan is said to have struck a
vehicle carrying local and foreign militants. Residents and local
intelligence officials in the area that borders Afghanistan say that a
suspected U.S. unmanned aircraft fired the missiles near the town of
Independent confirmation of the death toll is not possible because the region is a militant stronghold.
was the third such strike in North Waziristan within the past week. At
least 18 suspected militants were killed in the previous two attacks.
similar missile attack in the neighboring South Waziristan border
region in early August killed Pakistani Taliban leader Baituallah
Meanwhile, the Pakistani military has reported more
gains against Taliban militants in the ongoing offensive in and round
the northwestern Swat Valley. It says 16 militants were killed in the
clashes, including two key Taliban commanders, while more than 150
suspected fighters surrendered to local military authorities.
Pakistani officials also say security forces in Swat have surrounded
Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah and efforts are being made to capture
him. Last week the extremist leader's top spokesman, Muslim Khan was
captured with four other militant commanders and military officials say
information obtained from the detainees has helped the subsequent raids
Analysts say that recent arrests and killings of top
militant commanders, including Baituallah Mehsud, appear to have broken
the back of militants and led to infighting among various Taliban
Former security chief of Pakistan's tribal regions,
Mahmood Shah, says the military is better placed today to extend the
Swat anti-insurgency offensive into other Taliban strongholds, like the
Waziristan region on the Afghan border.
"The Taliban are
basically on retreat," Shah said. "They have not got their acts
together. So I think the Swat operation has sent a very strong signal
and if the government now starts an operation in even Waziristan, which
is considered as a hard nut, I think it has good chances to succeed."
military says since launching the Swat offensive in late April, it has
killed nearly 2,000 militants and captured many more. It has also
carried out major air strikes in the South Waziristan tribal region,
the Taliban stronghold. But the military has yet to launch a ground
offensive there because it says it is consolidating gains in the Swat
Valley before expanding the anti-insurgency activity.