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17 Oct, 2009 13:09

Pakistan begins Taliban offensive

Fierce fighting has broken out as the Pakistani army battles Taliban militants along the border with Afghanistan. At least 28,000 troops have been deployed to the South Waziristan province.

A curfew has been put into effect, and casualties have already been reported as Pakistani ground forces try to recapture the region. Air forces are also reportedly in use.

The full scale, long awaited operation comes after two weeks of militant attacks which killed over 170 people.

The province along the Afghani border is an Al-Qaeda and Taliban stronghold where three offensives since 2001 have proved to be ineffective at taking control of the area from the militants.

The province is believed to be home to up to 10,000 Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.

The US has urged Pakistan to act and has recently signed a $7.5 billion aid package over the next five years, some of which is conditional on Pakistan fighting militants.

Pakistani military analyst Mehmood Sultan Hali says fighting the Taliban is the country’s internal matter.

“We don’t need any prodding, this has become our war. It is now a question of our survival. As you have seen in the past four days, there has been a terrible wave of terrorism, so therefore the Americans don’t need to prod us, we have to save ourselves,” said Hali.

The retired Army officer warned of casualties, but said the feeling of unity in Pakistan would lead to victory.

“For the first time, the people of Pakistan, the parliament of Pakistan and the armed forces, all three are on one platform. They are in agreement. So, with a combined effort, although we will suffer casualties, we will defeat them,” Hali said.