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Pakistan offensive takes toll on Taliban -

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ELEANOR HALL: In Pakistan, Government forces are pushing deep into Taliban territory in the
volatile South Waziristan region.

The Pakistani military says it has so far killed 60 militants but the Taliban is putting up fierce
resistance and is warning that it will carry out more terrorist attacks.

This report from South Asia correspondent Sally Sara.

(Hakimullah Mehsud speaking)

SALLY SARA: This is the voice of the man who has declared war on the Pakistani Government.
Hakimullah Mehsud is the young leader of the Pakistani Taliban. He's threatening to take the fight
to every corner of the country. He's believed to be somewhere in South Waziristan, the remote
region along the border with Afghanistan. More than 30,000 Pakistani troops are pushing into the
area, hunting for Mehsud and his fighters.

Pakistani Army spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, says the progress of the troops has been slow.

ATHAR ABBAS: They are moving at a slow pace because it is a mountainous terrain. We have to be very
sure footed. There are a number of mines and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in the area which
require clearance. So, there are search and clearance operations also going on.

SALLY SARA: The Pakistani military has been planning this operation for months. It was approved by
the government back in July. Since then, the Taliban have carried out a series of deadly terrorist
attacks and warned the Government to back off. But, the Government says there will be no peace
deals and public opinion now seems to be in favour of the military offensive.

Security analyst Maria Sultan says the aim is to take out the leadership of the Taliban, even if
there are more terrorist attacks in the short term.

MARIA SULTAN: These kinds of attacks, we should not think they are going to diminish. They are more
likely to increase for the time being. But, if you take out the leadership and you take out the
backbone, you will have much more success in eradicating these elements and also ensuring that it
does not become a mass movement.

SALLY SARA: The civilians of South Waziristan are caught in the middle of the fight. Thousands have
already fled the unrest, but many others remain trapped in their homes.

The Government says most of the displaced families are staying with relatives in other districts.
But, local administrator Tariq Haqqi Khan says help will be provided.

TARIQ HAQQI KHAN: We are already looking after 12,800 families as of today who have moved out of
South Waziristan. We are not ruling out the possibility of establishing camps for the IDPs
(internally displaced people) if need be and we are ready for it.

SALLY SARA: The military offensive is still in its early stages and many Pakistanis are bracing
themselves for the Taliban's promised revenge attacks. Security forces remain on high alert across
the country

This is Sally Sara in Islamabad for The World Today.