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Pak soldiers capture Tarkona, kill 15 Taliban militants

Last Updated: Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 21:31

Islamabad: Pakistani troops on Sunday
captured a strategic mountain top and pushed deeper into
Taliban-held territory after consolidating their hold on areas
around the hometown of Hakimullah Mehsud in Waziristan, where
15 rebels and a soldier were killed in fresh fighting.

A day after taking control of Kotkai, the hometown of
Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, troops secured the strategic
mountain top of Tarkona Narai and other important features in
Sherwangi area after "intense engagements" that lasted 16
hours, the military said.

Security forces had been facing stiff resistance from
the Taliban in and around Sherwangi over the past few days.

Troops cleared several hideouts and bunkers to secure the
mountain top at Tarkona Narai.

Four militants were killed on the mountain while eight
more died when troops destroyed a vehicle that was fleeing the
area, the military said.

A non-commissioned officer was killed and three
soldiers were injured in the fighting. Three more terrorists
were killed during a gun battle that erupted when troops were
searching a compound southwest of Sherwangi.

Troops found a 12.7 mm anti-aircraft gun, rockets and
mortars in the compound.

As troops advanced from Kotkai, they took control of
important features to the north and west of the town.

The militants who had fled from Kotkai are targeting
security forces with rockets, the military said.

The military has described the capture of Kotkai as a
"very big success" in Operation Rah-e-Nijat, which was
launched eight days ago to flush Taliban militants out of
South Waziristan.

The military says over 185 militants and 24 soldiers
have died so far in the fighting though the figures cannot be
independently verified as journalists have no access to the
conflict zone.

The army has mobilised two divisions or about 28,000
soldiers to take on an estimated 10,000 Taliban militants and
foreign fighters in South Waziristan.

Troops also continued search and clearance operations
in the northwestern Swat valley and other parts of Malakand
division, where six suspects, including a would-be suicide
bomber, were captured at different places.

Six militants also surrendered to security forces in

Meanwhile, Balochistan Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed
Khan was assassinated by unidentified gunmen in the
southwestern city of Quetta. He was on his way home after
attending a function when gunmen opened fire at his vehicle.

Khan was killed instantly while one of his relatives
was seriously injured in the attack. The Baloch United
Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the killing.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 21:31
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