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October 10, 2007

Pakistan Kills 250 Pro-Taliban "Militants"

And civilians, of course.

A day after Pakistani warplanes pounded villages in the volatile tribal belt, killing as many 250 pro-Taliban militants and civilians, the army called a dawn-to-dusk ceasefire to let residents bury their dead and seek medical attention for the wounded.

Thousands of families have fled the Mir Ali district of North Waziristan since the massive bombardment began two days ago.

Following on four weeks of sporadic fighting, the militants had holed up in nine villages around the district, according to locals.

Mirage fighter jets and Cobra gunship helicopters bombed the militants' hideouts. No high-value targets were taken out in the strike, said Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad. Rather the attack targeted a group of guerrillas who had been attacking the military.

A bit of backround on the clashes from the NYT. An equal number -- 250 -- of government troops have been killed by militants recently.

Three days of fierce fighting have convulsed Pakistan’s tribal areas and exposed what tribal elders, politicians and local officials concede is the government’s lingering paralysis in dealing with the threat from Al Qaeda and Taliban militants spilling out of the region.

The fighting, the heaviest in more than four years, has left at least 45 Pakistani soldiers dead as pro-Taliban militants and foreign fighters mount a vengeful campaign on all law enforcement in the area.

The clashes come on top of months of deteriorating security after the militants tore up peace agreements with the government in July. Since then, more than 250 members of the security forces have been killed in sustained attacks, the highest losses since the 1970s.

The upheaval underscores complaints by a range of officials that the government has been so absorbed in securing the re-election of Gen. Pervez Musharraf as president that it allowed the security threat to go unchecked.

...

“The whole system of government is in jeopardy and the people are confused,” Mehmood Shah, a retired brigadier who served as secretary of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas until 2005, said of the region.

“The government is absolutely paralyzed,” he added. “It will take some time for them to turn the tables.”

Thanks for both to Hot Air.


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