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195 killed in Pak clashes, Army rules out ceasefire
October 09, 2007
Over 150 pro-Taliban militants and 45 soldiers have been killed in three days of fierce fighting in Pakistan's restive North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, However, the army on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of declaring a ceasefire to put an end to the violence.
Though militants have persuaded elders to convene a jirga or tribal council to broker a truce, military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said that the army will not agree to a ceasefire and will continue its operations against the Islamic extremists.
Approximately 13 security personnel have also been reported missing in the last two days. Local reports also claimed that 50 civilians had died in the clashes but these were denied by the army spokesperson.
"150 militants have been killed and 50 have been injured. Forty-five security personnel have lost their lives and 20 have been injured," Arshad told a TV channel in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Radio contacts had been re-established with most of the 50 soldiers who were reported missing since Monday though the army was still trying to re-establish contact with the 13 missing security personnel, he said.
Referring to the move by the rebels to send a jirga to negotiate a truce, Arshad said the militants had resorted to this move as they were, "under pressure and had suffered a lot of casualties because of their own acts of violence and lawlessness".
"They have sent a jirga and are trying to ask for a ceasefire but the security forces will not agree to a ceasefire and will continue to take action to make sure that the militants are brought to book," Arshad said.
Local reports from villages around Mirali claimed that over 50 civilians, including women and children, had been killed in the intense fighting in the mountainous region.
This is the first time that the military has used jets in the region since 2004. Arshad, however, denied that there had been any 'collateral damage' in the fight and said that the security forces were only engaging 'legitimate targets' like homes and sites from where they were being fired upon.
Taliban spokesperson Ahmedullah Ahmadi has claimed that over 60 soldiers were killed by the militants who also destroyed 11 vehicles.
The clashes started on Sunday after militants attacked a convoy of the security forces in an area 10 km south of Mirali, a major town in North Waziristan. Locals claimed that the army had imposed an undeclared curfew in the area and that the main bazaars in Mirali and Miranshah had been closed.