Pakistani insurgents are putting up a fight

Pakistan’s offensive in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan has met with significant resistance from insurgents, who have retaken one large town, targeted military vehicles with roadside bombs and held off the army’s attack helicopters with antiaircraft fire, U.S. military analysts said Friday.

The heavy fighting has slowed the advance of an estimated 36,000 to 40,000 Pakistani troops into the heart of the contested tribal region bordering Afghanistan, according to a detailed briefing on the week-old ground operation by researchers at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank. Meanwhile, the report said, insurgents continue to coordinate suicide bombings and assassinations outside Waziristan.

But the large government force, aided by U.S. drone strikes and intelligence, outnumbers the insurgents and is expected to maintain its methodical, three-pronged push in an attempt to capture key territory held by the umbrella group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in the tribal stronghold of slain insurgent leader Baitullah Mehsud.

“I am not surprised that they (Taliban insurgents) are opting for a pitched battle here,” said Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at AEI, which compiled the briefing report primarily from Pakistani military reports and local news sources. “This is their home town,” he said.

The operation’s success remains uncertain, given that government forces have not yet taken key towns such as Makeen and Kotkai, according to Kagan and AEI researchers Reza Jan and Charlie Szrom, who prepared the briefing.

“Makeen is probably going to be their hardest fight,” Kagan said, noting that several government troops have been killed or injured in rocket attacks in the vicinity.

Last Saturday, Pakistani troops’ advance toward Kotkai was slowed by the large numbers of roadside bombs, which killed at least one soldier. The soldiers surrounded Kotkai and destroyed the houses of some key insurgent leaders there, but the Taliban launched a counteroffensive and retook Kotkai on Tuesday morning, according to the briefing.

Still, Pakistan’s army is demonstrating more sophistication this time around in the use of counterinsurgency tactics compared with its 2004 incursion into Waziristan. For example, although most of the estimated 5,000 residents of Kotkai are thought to have fled, the military has not flattened the town with artillery fire and instead plans to move in in “a more measured way,” Kagan said.

If the operation succeeds, Kagan said, it would deal an unprecedented blow to the Pakistan-based Taliban group. “It’s a pretty well-coordinated plan, but it hasn’t gotten to the objective yet,” he said.

Talk to us

More in Local News

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

Craig Hess (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)
Sultan’s new police chief has 22 years in law enforcement

Craig Hess was sworn in Sep. 14. The Long Island-born cop was a first-responder on 9/11. He also served as Gold Bar police chief.

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Woman killed in crash on Highway 99 in Lynnwood

Police closed off Highway 99 between 188th Street SW and 196th Street SW while they investigated.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Most Read