Taliban hammered in Dir District near Swat

Times:

Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships fought Taleban militants yesterday after strong US pressure on the Government to confront the insurgents’ advance towards the capital.

The battle was raging in the Dir district, next to the Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan, where the Government signed a controversial accord with the Taleban allowing the imposition of Sharia courts. The Government threatened to revoke the agreement.

Government forces shelled Taleban hideouts in Dir, killing 30 insurgents, including a commander. A soldier was killed and four others were wounded when an army convoy came under attack.

“Helicopter gunships are pounding militants’ positions in the hills,” said Ali Shah, a grocer in Timergara, the main town of Lower Dir district. “There has been intense fighting. A curfew has been imposed. We are now confined to our houses.”

Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships fought Taleban militants yesterday after strong US pressure on the Government to confront the insurgents’ advance towards the capital.

The militants, with Swat under their control, have been trying to extend their foothold into Dir, where they had faced stiff resistance earlier from local people. Their latest advances have given them control of about 11 per cent of the country.

...

We will have to wait to see if the Pakistan army sustains the attacks until the Taliban capitulates. Unfortunately, too often it has been the army that has backed down. Some of its Frontier forces have surrendered to the Taliban. What is troubling still is that the action has only been taken after pressure from the US and not on their own initiative.

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