Taliban mostly driven out of key North Waziristan town
Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 01:15
Top commander says an operation to clear out the Taliban in North Waziristan is proceeding well and that security forces have retaken 80% of the strategic town of Miranshah.
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Pakistan military helicopters fly over North Waziristan.
Below them Miranshah, a once bustling town, is now virtually deserted.
This is week four of a mission to flush the Taliban out of the region.
Almost all the town's citizens have left after being warned that anyone who stayed behind would be considered a militant.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) OPERATION COMMANDER, MAJOR-GENERAL ZAFARULLAH KHAN KHATTAK, SAYING:
"It was no doubt the epicentre of terrorism, it was the nerve centre, logistics and communication base of all terrorist groups, and their activities. There was a presence of large number of local and foreign terrorists. It was a safe haven for other criminal elements also, of all hues and colours."
Commanders say that more than 400 militants have been killed during the operation and that 80 percent of the town is now free from insurgents.
But even within the military, some remain sceptical that the operation can bring about an end to Taliban attacks in Pakistan.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) PAKISTANI ARMY SPOKESMAN, MAJOR-GENERAL ASIM SALEEM BAJWA, SAYING:
"The top leadership of TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) is not in Pakistan. They are sitting in Afghanistan. And we've been raising this point with Afghanistan at all channels, that they need to be targeted, eliminated or handed over back to Pakistan."
Pakistan's allies, especially the United States, have urged the government for years to eliminate Taliban strongholds in North Waziristan.
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