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Pakistan offensive sets off fierce fighting

Fierce fighting continues as Pakistani troops are staging a massive ground offensive against Islamic militants in the northwestern part of the country.

The operation began on Saturday with more than 30,000 troops moving into South Waziristan on the border of Afghanistan.

The Pakistani army says militants are fighting back fiercely, and 4 soldiers were killed and 12 were injured. The area is a stronghold of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The Pakistani government mounted 3 military campaigns against these forces in the past. But they were hampered by the rugged terrain and strong local support for the insurgents.

The latest is the largest offensive to date, but is expected to last longer than one month as the militants are likely to continue their resistance by hiding in the mountains.

Thousands of local residents are fleeing the area while fears are rising that the insurgents will carry out retaliatory attacks across the country.

2009/10/18 05:55(JST)
(JST: UTC+9hrs.)