Pak Army advances towards Mehsud's heartland in Waziristan | world | Hindustan Times
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Pak Army advances towards Mehsud's heartland in Waziristan

Fierce gunbattles were reported raging as Pakistani troops continued to inch deeper into the Taliban's heartland in Waziristan in the country's restive northwest, as a top US military General arrived in Islamabad to discuss the operations with political and military leaders.

world Updated: Oct 19, 2009 14:12 IST

Fierce gunbattles were reported raging as Pakistani troops continued to inch deeper into the Taliban's heartland in Waziristan in the country's restive northwest, as a top US military General arrived in Islamabad to discuss the operations with political and military leaders.

"We are closing in on the heartland of (slain Pakistani Taliban chief) Baitullah (Mehsud's) organisation in the area," Chief Military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas claimed, acknowledging the presence of al Qaida militants in the area.

Having code-named the campaign as 'Rah-e-Nijat' or 'Path to Salvation,' Abbas said Pakistan military was advancing on two axes from the southeast and southwest on Taliban's main defences in the region.

"We are also blocking (routes) in the north so that they do not escape towards either North Waziristan or the border area (with Afghanistan)," Abbas said.

The Army continued the advance under the cover of a heavy artillery barrage and engaged rebels and foreign fighters linked to al Qaida in fierce gun battles.

As the operation in which Pakistani Army is reported to be deploying up to 30,000 troops, entered its third day on Monday, Abbas said it was "progressing well".

He said it would be "premature (and) too early to comment on any success or any victory". Army has indicated the operation would last between six and eight weeks, before deep winter sets in.