Pakistani offensive enters its second day.
Hamid Nawaz, a former Pakistani general, said that he believes the operation could be completed before the December snowfall, Al Jazeera reported Sunday. Five soldiers and sixty militants were killed in the first day of the offensive, which began yesterday, in South Waziristan.
Intelligence officials said Pakistani troops are advancing mainly from the north, with flanks on the south and east, pushing against the mountainous Afghan border to the west. The army reports it has captured the towns of Tank, Jandola and at Spinkai Raghzai as Taliban fighters fled Saturday, and fighting is still taking place outside of Spinkai Raghzai as well as Kalkala and Sharwangai. (See a detailed map at the U. of Texas library) The Pakistan army is hoping to surround and capture Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) strongholds in the operation, including Makin, Ladha, Kanigurram and Kotkia, the hometown of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
As many as 150,000 civilians have fled the area in the months leading up to the offensive, but an estimated 350,000 still remain. The UNHCR reported Friday, before the new offensive started, that getting care to the refugees is complicated by the security situation in Pakistan, as well as the estimated 2 million people who fled Swat, Buner, Shangla and Dir earlier this year.