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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistani forces take control of main tribal town

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, April 14, IRNA -- Pakistani security forces have taken full control of a main city in a troubled tribal region on Monday after forcing the Taliban-militants to quit the area, locals said Monday.

Hundreds of army personnel entered Wana, the center of South Waziristan, and have blocked all roads to the town, they said.

Taliban had been in full control of Wana for almost two years and there been no writ of the local authorities, according to tribesmen.

The forces took control of the town after attack on a convoy of security forces late Sunday night, a local correspondent in Wana said on phone.

Locals said that the forces had returned fire from Tanai check post after Taliban militants attacked the convly. Four Taliban fighters were killed in the counter-attack, they said.

There was no report of any casualties on the part of the security forces.

Tribesmen said they have heard intermittent exchange of gunshots last night and Monday morning.

The people are confided to their houses and no one is allowed to leave or enter Wana after the army’s action, a correspondent in the town said on phone.

“I have seen a wood market and other shops are burning in main Rustam Bazar of Wana,” the correspondent, requesting not to be identified, said.

Rustam Bazaar belongs to Zali Khel Wazir tribe of Taliban commander Mulla Nazir, who in a recent video message warned of attacks on Pakistani forces as well as foreign forces in Afghanistan.

One day before the army action, Taliban warned the people in Wana not to use mobile phone. In a pamphlet Taliban said that those who will use mobile phones will be jailed for six months and pay penalty of one hundred thousand rupees. The announcement said that the users of mobile phones will be considered as spies for the security forces.

Locals fear that the army may launch major operation against Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsood after taking control of Wana. Pressure on Baitullah has been mounted after the US announced $0.05 million reward on his head.

The Pakistani forces are thought to take action against Baitullah after he announced to launch attacks on Pakistani forces and started claiming responsibility for suicide attacks across the country.

Sources said that the authorities had asked the Mulla Nazir group of Taliban not to create law and order problem in Wana or to shift from Wana to other areas. But they refused, and the refusal led to the army’s action.

Baitullah Mehsood controls Makeen, Ladha, Khisure and Tiarza areas in South Waziristan, and locals said that the forces may launch offensives in these areas after establishing control in Wana.

Recent reports said that Pakistan and the US have agreed on action against Baitullah Mehsood. The report has not been denied by Pakistan.

Three Taliban factions in South and North Waziristan recently announced alliance "Shura-e-Mujahideen" (Council of Holly warriors) to step up attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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