Signal of US Appeasement?–Long-Demanded N. Waziristan Operation May Be Underway

30 killed as Waziristan fighting heats up

Helicopter gunships target arms market in Miramshah, triggering a series of explosions. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

MIRAMSHAH: At least 30 people, including 22 Taliban insurgents, were killed in fresh fighting in North Waziristan Agency on Monday, a day after nine troops were killed in an ambush in the same region.

Helicopter gunships bombed suspected militant hideouts in the suburb of Datta Khel Town where an indefinite curfew remained in place for a second consecutive day, officials and locals said.

Gunships also targeted a three-storey building believed to house weapons shops in Miramshah’s main bazaar, causing a huge fire, witnesses said. The building in Noor Din Arms Market was hit several times, an eyewitness told AFP requesting anonymity.

“I can see a huge fire and can hear explosions, I do not know whether people are trapped inside or not, it’s already curfew here,” he added.

At least five people, including two children and a woman, were killed while 30 others injured due to the explosions at the arms market, a medic at the agency headquarters hospital told The Express Tribune.

An AFP reporter and dozens of other tribesmen witnessed the bodies of children lying on the ground after the explosions.

A few hours on two tribesmen were killed and 15 wounded as they tried to salvage weapons from the gutted shops, an official added.

According to sources, militants fired missiles at the Miramshah fort housing security forces in which one Frontier Corps soldier was killed. And in retaliatory fire three militants were also killed.

A security official said 12 suspected militants hiding in a house in Datta Khel were also killed by the security forces while 10 died in other operations.

In another incident, 20 tribesmen were injured when a stray shell hit a mosque near Miramshah, officials and residents told The Express Tribune.

Meanwhile, two soldiers were reportedly beheaded after being captured during Sunday’s fighting, officials said.

The heads of the soldiers were found dumped without their torsos – one hanging from a barbed wire fence in the neighbourhood of Makane Bagh and the other in Zafar Town, local officials told AFP.

Fighting intensified in the area after Sunday’s attack on a security convoy by militants in the region.

Jirga under way

Officials said that local tribal elders were holding a jirga with top officials of the political administration. Maulvi Gul Ramzan and Mulvi Noor Ali Shah were leading the jirga, sources told The Express Tribune. Another jirga will be convened on Tuesday.

The fighting in Miramshah followed the murder last week of a senior cleric, Maulana Naseeb Khan, who taught at Jamia Haqqani in Akora Khattak. The Taliban blamed the army and vowed to avenge his killing. (With additional input by Agencies and Zulfiqar Ali from D I Khan)

Published in The Express Tribune

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