Pakistan retakes town, frees some hostages
Pakistan's military Wednesday said its troops seized control of the main town in the northwest Buner region after fierce fighting with the Taliban that killed more than 50 militants.Pakistan has to learn to protect the people from being used as hostages by the Taliban. It is an important part of counterinsurgency operations.
The fighting came after the military Tuesday launched a ground and air offensive in Buner, near the troubled Swat valley, to flush out militants from the area.
Earlier troops said they had also recovered 18 of around 70 police and paramilitaries abducted by militants in the Buner area Tuesday, chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told a news briefing.
"We have received reports of more than 50 casualties since yesterday," he said, adding that troops also destroyed two explosives dumps.
Meanwhile at least 20 people were killed and 24 others injured in armed clashes in Pakistan's financial capital Karachi on Wednesday, as simmering ethnic tensions boiled over in the south of the country.
A government minister said the incidents were "targeted killings" aimed at fanning ethnic violence in Karachi.
Earlier Abbas said troops had "successfully secured Dagar," the main town in Buner district, but militants were occupying three police stations in nearby villages.
"We are restrained by the fact that militants have made the people of Buner hostages," he said.
Separately, a suspected US missile strike on a vehicle in South Waziristan tribal district, bordering Afghanistan, late Wednesday killed at least six militants.
Semi-autonomous South Waziristan is a stronghold of Pakistan's top Taliban commander, Baitullah Mehsud, who recently threatened to avenge missile strikes with attacks across the country and in the United States.
Knocking off Mehsud's thugs is always a good days work for the UAVs. It also is a benefit for Pakistan too.