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Pakistan army: We have broken terrorists’ backbone

Islamist militants in the country in an apparent attempt to counter American criticism over the country’s campaign against extremism.

It was unclear on what basis General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani made his comments. While the army has conducted several operations against militants close to the Afghan border, the country is routinely rocked by terror attacks and extremists still hold sway in many tribal regions.

Hours after the statement, a suicide bomber on foot detonated his explosives alongside a convoy of Pakistani soldiers and elders from an anti-Taleban militia in the town of Salarzai in the Bajur tribal region. The attack killed four of the militiamen and a paramilitary soldier, said police official Fazal Rabbi.

The military in late 2009 had declared victory over insurgents in the area. Mr Rabbi said the army, paramilitary commanders and government officials met before the attack with the militia elders to discuss ways of keeping militants from infiltrating the area from various neighbouring regions and Afghanistan.

In a televised address to the cadets at a Pakistan Military Academy in the north-western town of Kakool, General Kayani praised the role of his soldiers in fighting extremists.

‘In the war against terrorism, our officers and soldiers have made great sacrifices and have achieved tremendous successes,’ he said. ‘(The) terrorists’ backbone had been broken.’ General Kayani in recent weeks has also visited tribal areas near the Afghan border to boost the morale of troops deployed there to fight the Taleban, who often target security forces and government officials. — AP

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