01/17/2008, 00.00
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Waziristan, Taliban abandon fort taken overnight

After setting off explosives against the walls of the military base, in the northern part of the country, the Islamic militants withdrew again to the Afghan border.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The group of Islamic extremists who during the night succeeded in taking over a military position in southern Waziristan withdrew about two hours ago, to return to the Afghan border area. The news comes from Major Athar Abbas, spokesman of the Pakistani, who also confirms the recovery of some soldiers thought to have been scattered during the clash.

The battle for the control of the fort lasted for more than twelve hours, and ended with the death of 7 soldiers and the flight of 32 others, who, according to Abbas, took refuge in villages near the base. The military also says that about 40 of the attackers died in the fighting. The Islamic militants, who belong to the Pakistani Taliban militia, blew up the walls of the fort, but this also meant that they had to abandon the now indefensible buildings.

In any case, the militants' victory over the fort has an exclusively symbolic value. The military base, in fact, is part of the territory under the control of Baiatullah Mehsud, the "warlord" accused by Islamabad of killing Benazir Bhutto. Moreover, President Musharraf himself has accused Mehsud's group - known as "Tehrik-e-Taliban" - of carrying out about 19 suicide attacks, causing the death of 450 persons.

According to some analysts, this battle was conducted to show the government that not even the army can stop the Islamic militia, which for months now has continued undisturbed in its advance from the Afghan border into all of Pakistan's northern provinces.

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