Last Updated 8/28 12:35 PM EST
Around 150 militants were reported killed in a surge of violence on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border.
On the Afghan side of the border, 40 Taliban were reported killed in airstrikes after attacking government-run checkpoints in Paktika, not far from Waziristan. Further west, in southern Helmand province, another 18 Taliban were killed by provincial police. It was also reported today that the Taliban are gaining an increasing level of influence in the city of Kandahar. These are the latest deaths in a four-day series of battles which coalition forces reported killed at least 100 militants.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, fighting continued in the restive Bajaur agency. Pakistani military spokesman said 30 were killed in a shelling after militants holed up in a health center. Helicopter gunships also pounded hideouts further north along the border, killing eight and wounding 12 others. Most surprising, however, as recent fighting in Pakistan has been largely confined to the Swat Valley (with Bajaur experiencing the brunt of the conflict), an estimated 100 militants attacked the strategically important Tiarza Fort in South Waziristan. Troops repelled the assault and killed 11 of the attackers.
As the multi-week offensive in Bajaur continues, refugees once again pled for a resolution to the conflict, hoping to return to their homes by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins Monday. The number of Bajauris displaced in the fighting is an enormous percentage of their population (slightly under 600,000 as of the most recent census). The Pakistani government has put the number at 250,000, though relief agencies suggested the number may be as high as 400,000. Many of the displaced have flocked to makeshift camps in and around Peshawar.
This past weekend, tribal elders in Bajaur attempted to broker a cease-fire between the Tehreek-e Taliban and the Pakistani government. They succeeded in getting the militants to agree to a unilateral cease-fire, but were rebuffed by the Pakistani government, who vowed the offensive would continue until all the militants surrendered or were killed.
All the reported casualties in Bajaur appear to be the result of Pakistani military offensives, so it is unclear if the promised unilateral cease-fire is still in place. It is likewise unclear if the militants involved in the attack in South Waziristan, which is on the opposite side of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (and near the fighting on the Afghan side of the border), are in any way affiliated with the Bajaur militants. The Pakistani government announced that parts of South Waziristan, including its capital city of Wana, would be placed under curfew.
compiled by Jason Ditz
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