PARACHINAR: Pakistani soldiers killed at least 11 militants during overnight gunbattles in three Taliban strongholds, intelligence officials said Saturday.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak with the media, said that while the Pakistan military has taken control of two of the strongholds Sararogha and Ladha there were still occasional clashes with militants. The army was still battling for full control of Makeen, which they call the "nerve center" of the Pakistani Taliban.
In mid-October, Pakistan launched an offensive in South Waziristan, a semiautonomous tribal region where Islamabad has seldom had significant influence, and which has become the main Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuary in the country. The military says hundreds of militants have been killed in the fighting a claim the Taliban dismisses.
The reality of the situation remains unclear. While refugees fleeing the area have reported fierce fighting, there have been next to no specific details. Journalists are not allowed into the region except on carefully orchestrated government trips.
The offensive has sparked a wave of retaliatory attacks across Pakistan.