Troops launch search operation in Raghzai

August 17, 2004


WANA, Aug 16: Hundreds of troops started a search operation in South Waziristan on Monday to track down militants, officials and eyewitnesses said.

Backed by several helicopter gunships, army and paramilitary troops searched various fortress-like mud-houses of suspected militants in the Raghzai area.

A source said that no arrest was made in the operation, conducted near the Afghan border, about 20 kilometres west of Wana, the regional headquarters. Army and paramilitary troops were moved from Zari Noor Brigade Headquarters towards areas near Afghanistan border, where foreign and tribal militants are believed to have their sanctuaries.

The sources said that the government had decided to go for 'snap raids' in the volatile region to catch suspected militants. Troops have sealed off Sarghashi, Shah Alam and Raghzai areas, set up check posts along the routes and imposed night curfew.

Villagers in Raghzai told Dawn that they had received verbal order from military officials "to confine themselves in their homes." "We have been ordered not to come out of our houses during night," a resident said.

Tribesmen in Wana town and other areas of South Waziristan have been experiencing night curfew for the last one month. The authorities imposed night curfew in several parts following rocket attacks and ambush on military installations.

Official sources said that security forces searched the houses of six tribesmen during the operation, which was started at about 7am, but no-one offered resistance.

The army troops searched the houses of Hayat Khan, Hakim Khan, Mohammad Ghulam, Noor Khan, Kamal Khan and Noor Zali Khan, the sources said. "Soldiers were looking very desperate for catching someone, but they could not find any suspect," local villagers said.