Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Fort Falls in Pakistan

According to the Associated Press, radical Islamic militants have overrun a Pakistani fort near the Afghanistan border, killing at least 25 soldiers. After the attack the Islamic insurgents abandoned the fort and disappeared into the hills.

This attack raises concern over the security of the area, and is evidence that the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto is seen as an opportunity by the Islamic Jihadists to chip away at President Pervez Musharraf's administration. After all, how long before the Jihadists begin to oppose the Pakistani more openly at larger military complexes?

The insurgents who attacked the post are believed to represent Baitullah Mehsud, an Islamic hard-liner who is the leader of a group of Taliban sympathizers and who is thought to have links to al-Qaida.

The attacking force on Fort Sararogha consisted of about 200 militants who charged the fort from four sides. They used rockets to break through the fort's wall.

The military claimed the defenders killed 50 militants before being overwhelmed.

There was no way to verify casualty numbers. Both sides have long accused each other of exaggerating such figures.

Musharraf first deployed the army in Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal regions along the frontier in late 2001 to chase down al-Qaida militants fleeing the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

The big question is, how long before the Islamic Jihad moves beyond the frontier, and sets its sights on the population centers of Pakistan, and Musharraf's presidency?

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