Taliban stronghold in Bajaur falls, Pak forces plan Khyber offensive

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Islamabad, Mar.3 (ANI): Pakistani security forces have claimed the Taliban's nerve centre in the Bajaur Agency's Damadola region and are now planning a fresh offensive against the extremists in the restive Orakzai agency and the Tirah Valley of the Khyber Agency.

"We have completely defeated the Taliban in a week-long operation that ended on February 6. We are facing problems in Orakzai and Tirah and will launch operations there in the near future," Frontier Corps Inspector General Major General Tariq Khan said.

The most significant aspect of the military operation has been the capture of the stronghold that was the headquarters of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan leader Maulvi Faqir Mohammad. The area is dominated by caved hideouts and ammunition dumps.

A large quantity of explosives, weapons and currency notes were retrieved from the caves. The complex is situated close to ice-capped mountains spanning across the Pakistan -Afghanistan border.

Talking to the media, Major General Tariq announced that the Pakistani flag has been raised in the region for the first time since 1947. He also confirmed the killing of 75 militants, including some foreigners.

"Among the dead were Egyptians, Uzbeks, Chechens and Afghans," Major General Tariq said, adding "There were over 150 caves dug into the mountains over a period of five to seven years."

"Now, the Taliban leadership does not exist. Twenty-five per cent of them have fled to Afghanistan and 15 per cent to Swat and other areas. Others have either been killed or captured," The Dawn quoted Tariq, as saying.

Damadola came into the limelight after the first US drone attack that was aimed at Al-Qaeda's second in-command Ayman al Zawahri, killed 18 people in 2006. (ANI)

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