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October 26, 2009

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Pakistani army advances

THE Pakistani army claimed advances in its eight-day old offensive in a Taliban stronghold along the Afghan border yesterday, while the militants' chief warned of more terrorist attacks around the country unless the military halted the assault.

The army moved into South Waziristan vowing to crush a militant network it says is behind 80 percent of the suicide bombings that have rocked the country over the past three years. Washington has encouraged the operation because militants there are believed to shelter al-Qaida leaders and attack Western troops in Afghanistan.

The military announced on Saturday its first major achievement, the capture of Kotkai, the hometown of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and one of his top deputies, Qari Hussain.

The town lies on the way to the militant base of Sararogha, and an army statement yesterday said troops had captured two key fronts between Kotkai and the base. The statement said troops secured at least one other important front and fought 16 hours to capture a significant mountaintop.

The militants have fled Kotkai and are sporadically attacking troops with rockets from high ground, the military said.


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