South Waziristan, the offensive against the Taliban begins
Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This morning, the Pakistani army began to converge troops and heavy artillery toward the Taliban hideouts in South Waziristan, a north-western region of the country bordering Afghanistan. This is confirmed by local officials, who speak of 30 thousand soldiers, backed by tanks, heading toward the Hakimullah stronghold of Mehsud, the new leader of Islamic extremists in Pakistan.
After weeks of announcements and air strikes, the ground offensive to root out the fundamentalist guerrillas in the country has begun. The military is moving from the north, east and west in an attempt to encircle the Taliban. "The ground operation is underway," said Tariq Hayat Khan, secretary of the Pashtun tribal areas of Pakistan, who refused to specify the details of the attack.
The campaign against the Taliban in South Waziristan will last a couple of months. Tight-lipped military are maintaining the absolute secrecy of operations. Foreign journalists have no access to the area, as authorities imposed a curfew in the early hours of the morning.
At least 170 people have been killed in the last two weeks in Pakistan, in a progressive wave of violence unleashed by the fundamentalists that have hit Islamabad, Peshawar, Rawalpindi.