Monday, November 29, 1999

Taliban `captures` dozens of Pak soldiers in FATA

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Peshawar, Jun.17 (ANI): Dozens of Pakistani soldiers are reportedly been held captive by the Taliban following an attack on a border checkpost between the Mohmand and Bajaur agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).Confirming the report, Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Athar Abbas said that at least 40 troops were missing since the Taliban attacked the checkpost situated a kilometre from the Afghan border.Abbas said that the Taliban handed over five troops to the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad, but the whereabouts of others were still unknown."We are looking for them," The Daily Times quoted Abbas, as saying.Reports coming out of the region varied as the area still remains inaccessible for the media.Some security officials stationed in the rugged region claimed that over 65 troops are missing.According to the BBC, the Afghan Taliban claimed that they had captured "dozens of Pakistani soldiers" after the attack.While the attack on the check post by the Taliban was nothing new, it is probably for the first time that the extremists have taken troops captive.Meanwhile, security forces backed by helicopter gunships and artillery pounded several Taliban hideouts in Bajaur Agency killing 38 extremists.At least 10 security officials were also killed in clashes.Local administration officials said helicopter gunships and long-range artillery opened fire after security forces received reports that the Taliban had infiltrated the area from the neighbouring Mohmand district.Officials said that the Taliban had distributed pamphlets in the region warning their comrades not to surrender or accept government job offers.It may be noted that the battle for Bajaur known as 'Operation Sherdil' was launched by the Pakistan Army in August 2008 to clear the area of the Taliban, who had established their control over the region since early 2007.In 2009, the Pakistan Army had claimed of sanitizing the region flushing out the militants, however, the renewed Taliban activities in the region clearly suggests that the extremists are far from being rooted out. (ANI)

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