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Another Waziristan fort falls to militants

January 18, 2008

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WANA/TANK, Jan 17: Over three dozen paramilitary soldiers are reported to have abandoned a fort in South Waziristan on Thursday before it was attacked by militants.

Pakistan Tehrik-i-Taliban spokesman Maulvi Umar claimed that about 60 paramilitary soldiers had surrendered without putting up resistance. He said the militants had taken away weapons and hoisted a white flag at the compound.

“The soldiers surrendered without firing a shot and, therefore, the Taliban Shoora decided to set them free,” Maulvi Umar told Dawn.

On Tuesday night, the militants had captured a fort in Sararogha.

Official sources said that the Siplatoi fort manned by about 40 personnel of the Frontier Corps (FC) was vacated on Wednesday night after reports were received that the militants were planning to attack it.

The soldiers proceeded to Chagmalai fort, one official said.

On Thursday morning, militants took control of the abandoned building, he said.

Local people said security forces bombed some places in Makin area on Wednesday night and Thursday.

A number of houses also came under fire and one woman was killed.

Seven people, three of them children, were wounded in the shelling. They were taken to a hospital in Miramshah in North Waziristan.

Sources said that the militants also fired rockets on a helipad near Jandola fort.

Agencies add: Military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said security forces were searching for 15 paramilitary soldiers missing since Tuesday’s attack in Sararogha.

He said five of the 20 missing men were reported to have reached villages in the area. “Fifteen are still missing. A search operation is on.”

He said there was no confirmation of the militants’ claim that they had captured 12 paramilitary soldiers.

The militants had abandoned the fort and security forces were preparing for an operation to regain its control, he said.

Troops also traded fire with militants at another fort in Ludda in South Waziristan after the Taliban fired rockets and small-arms.

Local security officials said clashes continued on Wednesday night in Sararogha, Ludda and another nearby village but there were no immediate reports of casualty or damage.