PARACHINAR, Pakistan — Helicopter gunships shelled militant hideouts in northwestern Pakistan on Nov. 11 killing 10 suspected fighters, following a Taliban attack that left two paramilitary soldiers dead at an outpost in the area.
The assault on the outpost in Mohmand was the latest staged by militants in retaliation for an army offensive against the Taliban's main stronghold in Pakistan's northwest.
Militants hope the attacks will weaken the army's resolve and have shown an increasing willingness to target innocent civilians in an attempt to weaken public support for the offensive.
Dozens of militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket launchers attacked the paramilitary outpost just outside Bai Zai in Mohmand before dawn, said an intelligence officer and local government official. Two soldiers were killed in the attack and three injured, they said.
The dead soldiers were found decapitated. Thirty-two other soldiers, many of them from a nearby outpost, are still missing, the intelligence officers said.
Taliban spokesman Ikramullah Mohmand claimed the Taliban had carried out the attack. An intelligence officer said Taliban hideouts shelled by helicopter gunships following the attack were located in Bai Zai. The assault killed ten suspected militants.
The Pakistani government has repeatedly stated that militant attacks will not deter it from following through with its operation in South Waziristan.
"We are fully committed and this is our resolve to eliminate terrorism completely," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters on Nov.11 in Islamabad. "This is a challenge for us, and we accept the challenge, as it is the primary duty of the government to protect the life and property of the people."
Pakistan's army has sent approximately 30,000 troops to root out up to 8,000 militants in South Waziristan, including many Uzbeks and other foreign insurgents who have long taken refuge in the lawless tribal areas.