Pakistani military officials said today that around 1,000 militants have been killed and 2,000 injured in Bajaur Agency since its offensive was launched in early August. Major-General Tariq Khan told reporters that 63 troops had also been killed and 212 injured in the operation, and that his timeframe for the offensive is “between one-and-a-half to two months” of additional hostilities before the agency is stabilized.
There has been no official word on the number of civilians killed in the fighting, which some relief agencies say has displaced more than 400,000 civilians, two thirds of Bajaur Agency’s population as of the most recent census. The Tehreek e-Taliban (TTP) has launched two major bombing attacks which they claimed as retribution for the offensive, one against a hospital which killed 32, and another against Pakistan’s largest military munitions plant which killed at least 70.
The Pakistani government announced a month-long ceasefire on August 31 in honor of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This came just one week after the government had rejected a unilateral offer of a ceasefire from the TTP. The announced ceasefire, however, never materialized and the Pakistani military has kept up its attacks throughout Ramadan, which ends next week.
Several Pakistani officials, including former President Pervez Musharraf, had suggested Bajaur was a possible hiding place for al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. However, while the military claims to have killed five “top” al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders, they have turned up no sign of either.
Maj-Gen. Khan estimated that 65 percent of the Taliban would be eliminated by a defeat in Bajaur. United States officials however have maintained that the primary militant hotbed lies in “western Pakistan,” and America has concentrated their efforts on unilateral strikes in North and South Waziristan, which has led to increasing tensions between the two nations.
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