NEWS: War in Pakistan

Pakistan fighting kills 250, civilians flee

Pakistani jets pounded militant hideouts in a troubled tribal region Tuesday, taking the death toll to 250 from three of the heaviest days of fighting in the region since 2001.

The clashes have forced thousands to flee from Mir Ali, a town in lawless North Waziristan district that President Pervez Musharraf has previously pinpointed as a den of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network.

Residents said dozens of people including women and children were killed in the latest air strikes in the rugged region bordering Afghanistan, but security officials insisted the dead were all Islamist fighters. [complete article]

Pakistan army’s tribal quagmire

At 11,000 feet, with the temperature dipping 10 degrees below freezing, an army pilot recalls how he was sweating from head to toe.

There was a fault in the engine and he might crash at any moment.

And while he could eject to safety, he would then be floating straight into the jaws of a death more dreadful than being charred inside a crashed jet.

“This is a country where soldiers are slaughtered,” he told me after his dramatic flight. “Their bodies may be found, but not their heads.”

He was over-flying North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal district on the border with Afghanistan where the army is fighting a difficult war against Islamic militants. [complete article]

See also, Pakistan’s paradoxical and chaotic stability (Jason Burke) and New political deal angers Pakistanis (CSM).

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