Gulf News

Army claims to have choked off Taliban

Commander of South Waziristan says no regular movement across boundary of insurgents is taking place

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Pakistani forces have choked off the infiltrati­on of Taliban insurgents into Afghanista­n from a violence-plagued border region, a Pakistani army commander said yesterday.

US-led Nato forces in Afghanista­n are bracing for a Taliban surge as the winter snows melt, and Pakistan has been facing a chorus of calls to stop the militants launching attacks from sanctuarie­s in tribal areas on its side of the border.

But the commander of Pakistani forces in the militant-infested South Waziristan region said his men had virtually sealed the frontier.

“No regular movement is taking place between South Waziristan and the Bermel area of Afghanista­n,” Major-General Gul Muhammad told reporters on a military-or- ganised trip to the region.

“If someone proves it with any satellite imagery, I am responsibl­e. We have choked all main routes,” he said. Muhammad also said Pakistani tribesmen had cleared foreign Al Qaidalinke­d militants from stronghold­s near South Waziristan’s main town after several weeks of bloody battles. Last year, the Taliban infiltrate­d large areas of eastern and southern Afghanista­n and mounted their most sustained stand against Afghan govern- ment troops and their foreign allies since the hardline Islamists were ousted in 2001. Fighting traditiona­lly tails off over the winter but the Taliban have been vowing a fresh surge in their campaign to oust the 45,000 foreign troops in Afghanista­n when the weather warms up.

As security has deteriorat­ed in Afghanista­n, calls have mounted for Pakistan to do more to stop the Taliban using sanctuarie­s on the Pakistani side of the border, and to crack down on the Islamist networks supporting the rebels. But another Pakistani officer rejected suggestion­s the Taliban and Al Qaida were operating out of Waziristan, and said Afghanista­n and its allies had to do more to improve security on their side of he border.

 ?? Reuters ?? Tribesmen from Aman Lashkar (Peace Force) gather in Wana, South Waziristan.
Reuters Tribesmen from Aman Lashkar (Peace Force) gather in Wana, South Waziristan.

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