Pakistan's fight against militants moves into Khyber

As Pakistan's fight against militants moves into Khyber, expanding the battle northward, the military claimed to have killed at least 18 militants Tuesday.

A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

Pakistan expanded its battle against Taliban militants in tribal areas Tuesday, launching a new offensive in the Khyber district against a Taliban-linked criminal group.

Agence France-Presse reports that the military killed at least 18 militants and arrested six in Khyber Tuesday, targeting members of Lashkar-e-Islam, a "criminal homegrown Islamist group" with ties to the Taliban.

The raid was in the village of Gurguri, about seven miles northwest of Bara, which is situated on the main NATO supply route into Afghanistan, reports AFP. The military recovered weapons, ammunition, and torture equipment, and secured the village, according to the news agency.

For more than a month, Pakistan has been battling the Taliban in South Waziristan in an attempt to take back control of the tribal area. Pakistan says the operation has been successful, claiming to have killed hundreds of Taliban fighters and captured most major Taliban towns and bases, reports Voice of America.

But as The Christian Science Monitor reported yesterday, some militants may have fled north to escape the offensive and are regrouping in areas like Orakzai, which borders Khyber (Click here for a map of the region.)

Pakistan appears to be expanding its fight against the militants into these northern districts. AFP reports that Pakistan's military also clashed with Taliban militants in the tribal district of Bajaur, north of Khyber. They imposed a curfew in the town of Khar after fighting that left six miltitants and two civilians dead.

Al Jazeera reports that Pakistani authorities claim that in the offensive in Khyber, they may be fighting Taliban militants who fled South Waziristan. They also claim that a recent string of attacks on Peshawar, the capital of the Northwest Frontier Province, may have been coordinated from Barra. The operation there includes a 24-hour curfew and a shoot-to-kill policy, reports Al Jazeera.

The Pakistani daily Dawn also reports that the miltants in Khyber are blamed for planning attacks on Peshawar.

Pakistani troops killed 18 militants in a fresh offensive on Tuesday against insurgents blamed for a wave of recent bombings in Peshawar. ...
Peshawar and surrounding areas have seen a relentless wave of bombings in recent weeks that have killed more than 150 people. The attacks are apparently aimed at avenging an ongoing, major army operation in South Waziristan.

Reuters reports that the Khyber offensive may be aimed at ending attacks on coalition supply convoys to Afghanistan.

Any heavy casualties inflicted on militants in the Khyber region could ease concerns in Washington, which wants Pakistan to root out fighters along the border, seen as a global hub for militants, to help it defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Militants have been trying to choke off the supplies with attacks, forcing the United States and other countries with forces in landlocked Afghanistan to look for alternative routes.
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