Taliban still rule half of Orakzai tribal area: report   2010-06-03 12:41:22 FeedbackPrintRSS

ISLAMABAD, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Despite the army's claim of the conclusion of the operation in Orakzai tribal area, locals and officials said that more than half of the agency has not been cleared of the Taliban, local media reported Thursday.

The military has cleared only Lower Orakzai, while the situation in upper and central Orakzai has not changed much, the local newspaper Daily Times quoted residents of Lower and Upper Orakzai as saying.

"The battle is far from over," they added.

A brief statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relation (ISPR) on Tuesday announced "the successful conclusion of operations in the agency."

However, fighting continued in the agency as more clashes were reported on Wednesday, the newspaper said.

Officials said Uzbek and other militants belonging to the "Lal Masjid group" and the Taliban from Swat, Bajaur and Waziristan areas were putting up stiff resistance in Upper Orakzai.

On the other side, they also said the forces had cleared areas bordering Khyber Agency in northern Orakzai, blocking the Taliban' s attempt to zero in on Peshawar, the main city in the northwest, and target supply routes for NATO and American forces in Afghanistan.

Military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas was quoted as saying that the operation in Orakzai was "almost over", but " stabilization operations may continue."

He said the resistance put up by the Taliban was "quite stiff" and the use of air force was necessary to soften up targets, as it "is hard for ground troops to attack Taliban positions on mountain tops."

Over 1,000 militants have been killed during the past two months in an attempt to clear militancy and terrorism in Orakzai, according to officials.

Editor: Lin Li
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