Taliban militants based in Pakistan’s restive South Waziristan tribal area, where the army has launched a major offensive, will be flushed out “within a month,” the country’s Defence Minister, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, has said.
“In the next 10-12 days we will see a rise in urban terrorism before things slowly go quiet again,” Mukhtar told ’The Sunday Times.’
He expressed confidence that the country’s forces will “defeat and eliminate” terrorists whatever the cost may be.
“I am confident that the insurgents in South Waziristan will be flushed out within a month but there may be more retaliatory attacks,” he said.
Mr. Mukhtar’s comments came amid stepped up terror attacks across Pakistan by Taliban militants, who have mainly targeted security personnel and military installations.
According to the Times report, the capture of Kotkai, the home town of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud, on Saturday was “a psychological blow” to the outfit.
More than 30,000 troops, backed by helicopters, fighter jets and artillery, are engaged in heavy fighting with 12,000 armed militants in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
So far 162 militants and 22 troops have been killed in what the Pakistani army has described as the “mother of all battles.”
The army said the village of Kotkai was full of bunkers and troops were clearing booby traps and landmines from streets.
There are fears that militant leaders, including Mehsud, may have already escaped to North Waziristan.