Pakistan Continues Waziristan Offensive
By VOA News
19 October 2009
Pakistan's military says troops are continuing to hit Taliban targets in South Waziristan as the offensive entered its third day Monday.
Army officers and Taliban spokesmen have claimed early victories in the fighting. But the accounts have not been independently verified because the army is blocking access to the battlefield.
Witnesses say thousands of people have fled the region in recent days. Many schools across Pakistan are closed this week because of security concerns.
In Islamabad Monday, U.S. Senator John Kerry and U.S. commander General David Petraeus met with senior Pakistani civilian and military officials.
Kerry was expected to discuss the $7.5 billion U.S. bill that triples non-military aid to Pakistan. Pakistani generals and some politicians have raised concerns about sections of the bill they say undermine Pakistan's national sovereignty.
The Kerry-Lugar bill requires the U.S. Secretary of State to periodically verify that Pakistan's civilian government is exercising control over the military. It also says Pakistan must show progress in ending support for terrorist groups and dismantling radical factions based on its soil.
Also Monday, police in the southern city Karachi said they arrested a top Taliban leader and three other militants. Police said the group allegedly had tried to attack a local oil depot last month, but were foiled by police.
In the last two weeks, militants have launched a string of brazen attacks across the country that have killed more than 175 people.
The government has blamed Pakistani Taliban militants based in South Waziristan along the Afghan border for nearly all of the violence.
Military officials say they expect the Waziristan offensive against an estimated 10,000 militants will last six to eight weeks, before winter weather makes fighting difficult.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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