While I hate islamonazi terrorists, I cannot help but smile at the misfortunes besseting the Pakis, bad karma for helping the terrorist nazi state kill Tamils perhaps
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan
- In an embarrassing battlefield defeat for Pakistan`s army, Islamic militants attacked and occupied a military fort near the Afghan border, leaving at least 27 troops dead or missing.
The military claimed it killed 50 militants in the fighting, but the loss of Sararogha Fort in South Waziristan in the surprise assault on Tuesday night eroded confidence in the government`s ability to control the border area where Taliban and al-Qaida flourish.
`About 200 militants charged the fort from four sides,` army spokesman Maj.-Gen. Athar Abbas said. `They broke through the fort`s wall with rockets.`
Fifteen members of the 42-man Frontier Constabulary garrison reached safety in Jandola, an army base located about 35 kilometres east of the occupied British-era fort. Seven others were killed and 20 were still missing, Abbas said.
The loss of the fort is one of the military`s worst defeats since President Pervez Musharraf first deployed the army in Pakistan`s semiautonomous tribal regions in late 2001 to chase down al-Qaida militants fleeing the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.
Residents reported the army retaliated with heavy artillery fire, and Abbas said 50 attackers died in the fighting. The casualty figure could not be independently confirmed. In the past the rebels have dismissed government claims about their losses as heavily inflated.
A spokesman for Tehrik-i-Taliban, an umbrella group for pro-Taliban forces led by Baitullah Mehsud - the militant commander blamed by the government for the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto - claimed 16 troops were killed and 24 others captured, half of them wounded.
He said only two Taliban fighters died.
The spokesman, Maulvi Muhammad Umer, warned the government to release Taliban prisoners and stop military operations in the tribal regions and Swat Valley, another region in the volatile northwest, or the militants would stage more attacks across Pakistan.
`Attacks will continue not only in the tribal areas but we will target the government everywhere in the country,` he told The Associated Press by phone. He said militants had destroyed the fort with explosives.
Sararogha Fort is one of four in the Mehsud tribal region, where Baitullah Mehsud is based and has thousands of armed supporters. He is believed linked to al-Qaida.
While its loss is militarily significant, the bigger impact will be on the prestige of security forces, demonstrating the inability of Musharraf`s government to contain a growing Islamist insurgency ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for Feb. 18.
Pakistan is reeling from a series of suicide attacks in which about 400 people have perished across the country. They include Bhutto, a former prime minister, who was killed on Dec. 27 in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Pakistan has deployed nearly 100,000 troops with heavy artillery and Cobra helicopter gunships to the border regions to try to block cross-border infiltration by Taliban militants fighting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
But tactics in the past four years have vacillated between use of extreme force and appeasement. Pro-Taliban forces now appear capable of launching co-ordinated assaults inside Pakistan`s border regions as they do in the volatile south and east of Afghanistan.
A U.S. intelligence estimate last year said a government peace pact with Taliban militants that was hatched in 2006 but collapsed less than a year later had allowed al-Qaida to regroup in Pakistan`s tribal belt, a possible hiding place of Osama bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.
Opposition leaders were quick to blame Musharraf for the deteriorating security situation in the country.
`Musharraf is the root cause of all problems,` said Nawaz Sharif, a leading opposition politician and former prime minister who was overthrown by Musharraf in 1999.
Meanwhile, Bhutto`s political party said it sent a letter to the United Nations asking it to form a committee to investigate her Dec. 27 assassination. The party says it does not trust Musharraf`s government to competently probe the killing.
It is unlikely the United Nations will consider the request because it did not come from the government, which has said it will not seek the help of the world body.