War in Waziristan

The war in South Waziristan continues to heat up, with Government forces claiming 90 Taliban (“miscreants” is the term commonly used to describe terrorists in Pakistani papers,) killed. Story from AP:

RAWALPINDI, Jan 18 (APP): Security forces on Friday killed around 90 miscreants  in two incidents in South Waziristan Agency, said an ISPR press release.In the first incident at 12.30 p.m., a convoy of security forces moving on Jandola-Wana Road was fired upon from Chaghmalai with small arms and rockets.
The security forces retaliated and engaged militants/miscreants with small arms and rockets. The fire fight continued for an hour. Exact number of miscreant’s casualties is not known, however, it is estimated that 20 to 30 miscreants were killed.
Four security forces personnel suffered injuries and two vehicles were damaged in the incident.
In the second incident, the miscreants started engaging Ladha Fort with small arms and rockets at 10 a.m. A large number of miscreants started gathering around north of the fort at 3 p.m. 
Security Forces used artillery, mortars and small arms fire to engage the miscreants. Reportedly, 50 to 60 miscreants were killed and rest of them dispersed. The security forces suffered no casualty.
Media reports saying that Sipla Toi has been taken over by miscreants are incorrect as FC Troops are still manning the Fort, the press release added.

This is typical of media reports from the Frontiers of Pakistan — Islamist and Government stringers make claims and counter-claims, but in the end we only know that some fighting is going on until real reporters go to region.

Bill Roggio reported the earlier stories here.

The Frontier Corps troops have been demonstrably less than effective against Baitullah Mehsud’s Taliban tribal forces in South Waziristan, last year we saw the kidnappings and surrenders as well. The regular army is still tied up at the borders and in keeping the Swat Insurgency quelled, along with the usual sectarian fighting as Sunni Deobandis attack Shia in several regions during Ashura / Moharram.

Update from AP:

In a new show of strength this week, hundreds of Mehsud’s fighters mounted the attacks on the two forts in South Waziristan that exposed the Pakistan military’s weak grip over the lawless border region.

An intelligence official based in the area said security forces had in response launched a sweep to clear the area of militants. He asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Between 50 and 60 insurgents died Friday when they attacked a fort in the village of Ladha with small-arms fire and rockets, a military statement said. Security forces repelled the attack using mortar and artillery fire.

Up to 30 more attackers were killed when they tried to ambush a military convoy near the village of Chakmalai, the army said. Only four troops were wounded, it said. It was not possible to confirm the casualty claims.

Despite its reports of high militant casualties in Friday’s clashes, the army denied that it had launched an offensive against the rebels.

“There was absolutely no offensive launched at any village in South Waziristan,” Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told The Associated Press.