The Pakistan army has been warned to expect a long and difficult war as it attacked the Taliban along the mountainous border with Afghanistan. About 28,000 soldiers advanced into South Waziristan where it’s thought 10,000 Taliban fighters are waiting. Details are sketchy though with independent journalists banned from the area. The Pakistani military has been preparing the assault for months, using aircraft and heavy guns to soften up the Taliban before sending in the troops.
Up to 100,000 people are thought to have fled South Waziristan as the clock ticked down to the assault. The United Nations says 500 refugees are leaving every day and face an uncertain future. One target of the offensive is Hakimullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader in Pakistan. South Waziristan is regarded as a base for Islamic terror attacks both in Pakistan and across the border into Afghanistan. “(The militants) know the place very well while the security forces will face a big challenge from these militants,” said political and military analyst Agha Masood Hussain. “So, I don’t think the security forces will overcome the militants very soon. It will be a long war.” Security is also high in the capital Islamabad, where police arrested 30 suspected members of a banned Islamic group. Hizb ut-Tahrir is based in Britain. It wants a pan-Islamic state in Pakistan, but insists its methods are peaceful.