(AFP): Around 250 Islamic militants and 60 troops have been killed in just over a month of fighting in Pakistan’s tribal belt, the army said Friday, following intense US pressure to pacify the area.UK TELEGRAPH - AFGHANISTAN:
Two new suicide bombings rocked the rugged region on the border with Afghanistan on Friday, claiming the lives of another six Pakistani soldiers and six rebels, officials said.
The Pashtun-dominated tribal zone has been wracked by violence since a controversial peace pact between the Pakistani government and pro-Taleban rebels in the region broke down in mid-July.
Embattled President Pervez Musharraf has also been warding off threats from Washington, his main backer, to go it alone and launch military strikes on al-Qaeda and Taleban insurgents said to have regrouped in the area.
“Some 250 militants have been killed in operations in the tribal districts in the past four to six weeks. Sixty soldiers have also been martyred,” chief military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad told AFP.
Arshad said the militants who were killed included some foreigners — usually official Pakistani jargon for militants linked to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network. He said most of the deaths among the security forces occurred in suicide attacks and roadside bomb explosions targeting their convoys.
Osama bin Laden's cement-lined swimming pool fed by a mountain stream still lies, half destroyed, at the entrance to his cave complex at Tora Bora.RTWT.
Close to the caves, which have been dynamited shut, is a rusting 1980s vintage Soviet tank; bullets and scraps of camouflage clothing litter the ground. An air of brooding gloom hangs about the cloud-wreathed mountains.
Tora Bora locator, return to the lair of bin Laden
But six years after US special forces failed to capture the al-Qa'eda leader in his mountain stronghold, the place where the September 11 attacks were hatched, American troops are again scouring the mountains of Tora Bora.
A week ago American forces launched a major operation to counter a rejuvenated al-Qa'eda, which has been steadily regrouping in the tribal areas of Pakistan, and has in the past three months moved back into the Tora Bora area of Afghanistan.
American military officials say much of what is happening around Tora Bora remains "classified". Discreetly, Western officials in Kabul describe it as "very successful", trapping insurgents in a series of adjacent valleys.
Hundreds of Afghan and U.S.-led coalition troops are continuing a major offensive against Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters in eastern Afghanistan.PENINSULA: 20 killed in Afghanistan violence
The battle is close to Tora Bora -- a part of Afghanistan that was the last known refuge of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in late 2001.
The offensive at Tora Bora began with air strikes launched on August 14 by U.S.-led coalition aircraft.
Radio Free Afghanistan’s corresponent Daud Wafa traveled to the Pacheragam district of Nangarhar Province, south of Jalalabad, to speak with some of those displaced by the fighting.
A villager forced from his home in the area, Allah Dad, tells Wafa that the coalition ground and air operations have been incessant.
"Planes are flying over during the night," Allah Dad says. "We can see the U.S. troops coming and going during the daylight hours."
A roadside bomb killed three private security guards yesterday while two policemen and 15 Taleban died in fighting overnight in fresh violence in Afghanistan, officials said.
Two guards were also injured by the bomb that struck their vehicle on a road in Zahiri district of Kandahar province, provincial police commander, Sayed Aqa Saqib told AFP.
Separately, nine Taleban rebels and a policeman were killed in intense fighting Friday night in Ghazni Province, a district administration official said.
The clashes in the remote, Taleban-dominated Giru district lasted several hours, official Mahboob-Ullah told AFP.
"The bodies of the enemy casualties have been recovered. One of our policemen was martyred," he said.
- WE'RE BACK ON THE OFFENSIVE AND WE ARE KICKING THE ENEMY'S ASS.
- NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE TALKING ABOUT RETREAT OR DEFEAT.
- I HAVE A FEELING WE ARE JUST BEGINNING TO POUR IT ON, AND THAT THERE WILL BE MORE DECISIVE AND UNDENIABLE VICTORIES IN THE DAYS AHEAD...