The Pakistani army, on Saturday, sent helicopter gunships and war planes to strike at Taliban positions in what has become a test of Pakistan’s resolve to fight terrorist and other Islamic extremists entrenched in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan and in the Swat valley where the Taliban insurgency has caused international alarm.
Reuters has reported that, according to military sources, up to 55 militants were killed in the day’s clashes; four government soldiers were wounded. However, Reuters notes that these figures could not be independently confirmed.
This is not a normal war. This is a guerrilla war. But it is our resolve, it is the resolve of the army that there should be minimum collateral damage.”
This latest offensive targeted hideouts in Mingora and other areas in Swat, while militants, in turn, fired rockets at an army base in Mingora. Pakistan’s army has been on a full-scale offensive since the government ordered it to flush out militants from their strongholds. The growing Taliban insurgency inside nuclear-armed Pakistan has caused alarm in the United States and other Western countries.
Up to 15,000 troops have been pitched against between 4,000 to 5,000 battle-hardened militants in the Swat valley.
In a separate incident on Saturday, a suspected U.S. drone fired missiles at targets in South Waziristan, an al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuary on the Afghanistan border. This is not likely to help the Pakistani government in its efforts to rally internal support for the offensive, as such U.S. actions are considered violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty.Ω