Pakistani troops overrun Taliban base near Afghan border

October 25th, 2008 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Oct 25 (DPA) Pakistan’s security forces claimed Saturday they had seized a strategic Taliban militant base in the country’s ungoverned tribal region along the border with Afghanistan.Major General Tariq Khan, inspector general of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, said the troops had taken control of Loi Sam area in Bajaur tribal district, a known sanctuary for Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters carrying out cross-border attacks on US-led international forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan troops backed by fighter planes and helicopter gunships launched a major offensive in August after militants captured a strategic hilltop in Loi Sam on a road leading into the Afghan province of Kunar, and reinforced their positions in the surrounding areas.

More than 1,500 militants have so far been killed and some 950 were arrested, Khan told reporters in Bjaur’s main town Khar.

“Among the arrested are also Chechen, Uzbak, Tajik and Afghan nationals,” he added.

According to Khan, government forces lost 73 soldiers - 42 army and 31 paramilitary soldiers - while 269 were injured.

He said the local fighters, who were receiving reinforcements from the Taliban in Afghanistan, are still offering tough resistance to the security forces and a period of between six months and one year would be required to gain complete control of Bajaur district.

The security forces are assisted by 11 lashkars, traditional armies formed by local tribesmen.

The fighting in Bajaur has displaced more than 250,000 residents, around 20,000 of which have taken refugee in Kunar.

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