Fighting intensifies in Pakistan's northwest

Pakistani troops and militants battled near the edge of the top Taliban commander's stronghold Thursday as violence in the country's volatile northwest spread and intensified, with multiple battles killing scores of insurgents.

The clashes near the border with Afghanistan were sparked by militant attacks, however, and there was no sign that the military was launching a new major offensive in the lawless tribal belt where the Taliban and al-Qaida have entrenched themselves in recent years.

Officials in Washington say privately they would like the Pakistani army to extend its ongoing operation to oust the Taliban from the northwestern Swat Valley region into North and South Waziristan. Both areas are hotbeds of militant activity that al-Qaida and the Taliban are accused of using as bases to foment violence against American troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has not announced plans for a new offensive in the tribal belt, and may first want to finish the Swat operation and deal with the huge humanitarian crisis it spawned. More than 2 million people have been uprooted from their homes by the fighting, and about 200,000 are living rough in refugee camps.

But fighting has spilled out of Swat in the past week, as militants stepped up attacks on security forces in retaliation for the offensive and the army has replied with artillery, gunships and assault forces in some areas.

The army said in a statement that about 400 militants using guns and rockets attacked two forts at Siplatoi and Jandola in South Waziristan, a rugged, remote region along the Afghan border where Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud is based. They were repelled in battles that killed 22 militants and wounded "a large number" of others, as well as leaving three troops dead, it said.

They were the largest skirmishes in South Waziristan since the Swat offensive began, though the area has been hit by smaller attacks.

In another area of the northwest, the military said it had secured two villages in Upper Dir where militants had holed up after being fought into retreat during five days of clashes with a citizens' militia that sprang up to deliver payback for a recent deadly mosque bombing. It said 34 militants were killed, and one civilian died in a militant rocket attack.

The army used helicopter gunships to target militant positions in the operation, which also included the Bannu and Hangu regions as well as Upper Dir, and two local Taliban commanders were among the dead, said three intelligence officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give information to reporters.

Taliban in the villages of Shatkas and Ghazi Gay were still beseiged by the militia, which destroyed a number of bunkers and an ammunition cache, the military said.

The government has exhorted Pakistanis to rise up against militants in their areas, trying to capitalize on a recent shift in public mood against the Taliban, which for years have been met with ambivalence or tacit support in many areas, especially the religiously conservative northwest.

Clashes also continued in several areas in Swat, killing 10 militants, the army said. The military says it has killed more than 1,300 militants during the offensive and reclaimed most of the region.

Verifying reports from the various fronts is nearly impossible because of the danger in the area and restrictions on journalists.

Past offensives against Islamist militants - including in South Waziristan - have often faltered, with the government choosing to strike peace agreements with the extremists. A peace deal in Swat collapsed in April after the Taliban advanced from there into nearby Buner, just 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the capital, Islamabad.

Violence dotted the country elsewhere.

On the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, assailants hurled a grenade at a police road checkpoint and when more police rushed to the scene a suicide bomber ran forward and blew himself up, said police superintendent Nisar Marwad. One officer was killed and 12 people were wounded, including eight police and four bystanders.

Also near Peshawar, gunmen opened fire earlier Thursday on local government minister Mian Nisar Gul's convoy in the town of Darra Adam Khel, wounding him and killing three of his bodyguards, said Bashir Balor, a senior official of his party.

And attackers hurled grenades in two business areas of Dera Ismail Khan, near South Waziristan, in separate attacks that killed one person and wounded 29 others, said Miran Shan, a local police chief.

In the southwest, a bomb also exploded in the toilet of a passenger train traveling from Quetta to Karachi, killing one and wounding 35 others, police official Shamar Ali Magsi said. The Baluch Republican Army, a group fighting for greater autonomy and wealth for Baluchistan province, was responsible for the blast, spokesman Sarboz Baluch said in a phone call to The Associated Press.

Central Bank of Iran allocates funds for import of vaccines
Central Bank of Iran allocates funds for import of vaccines
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on April 21
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on April 21
Number of oil, gas wells drilled in Iran revealed
Number of oil, gas wells drilled in Iran revealed
Loading Bars
Azerbaijan joins initiative of single roaming space between Eastern Partnership countries
Turkish Airlines receives permission to operate flights to number of Uzbek cities
Kazakhstan’s KMK Munay decides against paying out dividends for 2020
Kazakhstan's revenues from maritime cargo transport surge
High freight rates significantly raise global prices of commercial ships
Central Bank of Iran allocates funds for import of vaccines
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on April 21
Geostat reveals Producer Price Indices for services in Georgia
Turkmenistan boosts imports of Turkish-made chemicals
Uzbekistan, France agree on deepening interaction in textile industry
Boeing CFO Smith to retire in July
Georgia increase tea import from Azerbaijan
Czech Development Agency talks projects in Georgia
Georgia sees increase in Export Price Index
Domestic Producer Price Index for Industrial Products up in Georgia
Number of oil, gas wells drilled in Iran revealed
Kazakhstan's exports to Bulgaria plummet
Iran's Esfarayen Industrial Complex to increase exports
Azerbaijani payment system to offer instant digital banking cards
Russian iron and steel works company reveals supplies of metal production to Uzbekistan
Baku Higher Oil School organized a webinar on the topic 'Higher Education and Research in the Post-COVID Period' (PHOTO)
PACE can offer support for establishment of lasting peace in South Caucasus - SecGen
Israel's government debt jumped to nearly NIS 1t in 2020
TAP’s gas deliveries for Q1 2021 disclosed
Swiss investments in Azerbaijan concentrated in non-oil sector – Swiss ministry
Azerbaijan names number of vaccinated citizens
Iran to receive vaccine through COVAX
Iran increases salaries for army personnel
Producer Price Index for Industrial Products up in Georgia
Iranian private sector to import 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine
Iran to implement extensive and maximum vaccination plan - President Rouhani
Budget provides continued support to Georgian economy - IMF mission
Azerbaijan confirms 2,197 more COVID-19 cases, 1,946 recoveries
Georgia sees decrease in external debt
Pakistan always supports Azerbaijan's just position - Pakistani Admiral
Bahar Azadi gold coin price still falling in Iran
Chairman of Iran Tea Organization talks about tea growing
Russia ready to help Kazakhstan in construction of nuclear power plant
Israeli journalists visit roadside inn in Azerbaijan’s Fuzuli, turned into barn by Armenians during occupation (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan taking additional measures to develop karakul sheep breeding
US company to build cannabis farm in Uzbekistan
France’s Orano to develop new mining sector in Kazakhstan
National Bank of Georgia remains focused on achieving its inflation target
Azerbaijan's International Bank discloses 1Q2021 net profit
Turkmenistan joins WIPO Patent Law Treaty
Armenia outraged by Russian PACE delegates refusal to discuss so-called "issue of POWs”
Electricity generation of Iran's hydroelectric power plants to decline
Azerbaijan's 1Q2021 polyethylene production slightly down
Russian Railways to build high-speed railway entries to Moscow, St. Petersburg by 2024
UAE central bank extends some stimulus measures until mid-2022
President Aliyev interviewed by Azerbaijan Television (PHOTO)
Important to observe int’l law to avoid such conflicts as Karabakh one in future - Chancellor of Germany
UK eases post-Brexit controls on vehicles taking goods to the EU
PayPal's Venmo launches crypto buying and selling
Iran's shares data on sale of public assets
President Ilham Aliyev attends inauguration of Azersun Shamakhi Agropark in Hajigabul (PHOTO)
Iran expects revival of JCPOA in short term
Liabilities of International Bank of Azerbaijan increase
Sinovac supplied 260 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses globally
Azerbaijan names number of foreign visitors in 1Q2021
Elbit Systems awarded $41m US Marines night vision deal
Price of wheat purchased from farmers in Iran increases
President Ilham Aliyev launches 110/35/10 Kv “Garasu” substation in Hajiqabul (PHOTO)
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan’s oil transportation to Turkey down y-o-y
Kazakh oilfield construction company opens tender to buy pipes
SOCAR sums up Kulevi oil terminal’s Q1 2020 performance
Total assets of International Bank of Azerbaijan increase
Iran declares value of exports from cooperative enterprises in Razavi Khorasan Province
Uzbekistan plans introducing charter flights to popular destinations
Companies from Russia’s Smolensk begin to export products to Azerbaijan
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for April 20
Amount of registered Iranian companies in Turkey down
Khazar Consortium in Turkmenistan opens tender for equipment purchase
Azerbaijani banks' foreign currency demand disclosed
Border checkpoint between Iran, Pakistan to be opened
SOCAR’s petrochemical complex to significantly increase sales – Yapi Kredi
French EDF eyes building pumped-storage power plant in Uzbekistan
Turkmenistan's Turkmenhimiya extends tender for turnkey plant construction
Major Iranian companies boost iron ore pellets production
India hopeful US will soon end curbs on Covid vaccine raw materials export
BRO upgrades crucial 110 feet long bridge on India's Leh-Sarchu Road in 8 days
73,600 Covid vaccination centres operational in India on Monday, highest till date
J&J Seeks India's Permission For Phase 3 Trial Of 1-Shot Vaccine: Report
IAF chief RKS Bhadauria visits France as Rafale deliveries gain pace
Covid-19 vaccines for all adults in India from May 1, says Centre
Solar panel stations launched in Iran
Azerbaijan sees surge in 1Q2021 manufacturing of tobacco products
Kazakhstan boosts trade turnover volume with Austria
Yapi Kredi reveals forecasts for SOCAR’s Petkim
EAM Jaishankar speaks to US Secretary of State, exchanges views on Covid, UNSC agenda
Iran sees increase in car manufacturing
Azerbaijan issues data on 1Q2021 oil exports to India
President Ilham Aliyev attends presentation of agropark owned by Agro Dairy LLC in Hajigabul (PHOTO)
Israel logs Indian COVID-19 variant, sees some vaccine efficacy against it
Turkey discloses info on cargo movement via Cesme port for 2M2021
President Ilham Aliyev watches sowing process in farmer Elshan Khalilov’s cotton field
Germany raises import of Turkish-made furniture
Several facilities put into operation in Iran’s Parand New City
President Ilham Aliyev opens Hajigabul-Mughan highway after renovation (PHOTO)
Turkmenistan continues industrial production during pandemic
All news