South Waziristan: The Pakistani military has released video of what it says are its troops fighting in South Waziristan, as the Army fought for control of the Pakistani Taliban chief's hometown on Wednesday, according to the authorities.
The video also shows weapons the Pakistani military claims were seized from militants, and a cave which it's alleged was once a militant base, now captured by the military.
The video was released as the military fought a ground and air offensive against entrenched Taliban fighters in the remote, rugged South Waziristan province along the border with Afghanistan, for a fifth day.
The military is advancing on three fronts in South Waziristan. The fight for Kotkai town is symbolically key because Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and a top deputy, Qari Hussain, hail from there.
It also lies on the way to the major militant base of Sararogha.
An Army statement on Wednesday said that forces were engaged in "intense encounters" in heights surrounding Kotkai and had secured an area east of it.
Two intelligence officials said troops had secured parts of the town and also destroyed houses belonging to Mehsud and Hussain in controlled explosions, but an Army spokesman denied that late on Wednesday, saying most of the fighting was on hillsides and the outskirts of the town.
Security forces also cleared Khaisura, a village on another front in the offensive, according to the Army statement. Heavily fortified bunkers were found, some with two-meter thick concrete walls, the Army said.
It reported three more soldiers were killed, bringing the Army's death toll so far to 16, while 15 more militants were slain, bringing their overall death toll to 105.
It is nearly impossible to independently verify information coming from South Waziristan because the Army has closed off all roads to the region.
The analysts, however, say both sides have exaggerated successes and downplayed losses in the past.
The Pakistani military's operation is considered its most critical fight against Islamist extremists threatening its stability, and its strategy involves convincing other warlords and tribes in the region to stand aside during the fight, even if they are involved in anti-US activities in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have killed hundreds of tribal elders throughout the Afghan border region to undermine the age-old administrative system there and solidify control. Loyalties run deep among tribesmen, and codes of honour prevent them from informing on each other, even if one is suspected of anti-government activity.
Story first published:
October 22, 2009 17:18 IST