At least eighteen coalition troops including five US commandoes were killed in a shootout at the Rakha-Birmal village of the South Waziristan Agency close to the Afghanistan eastern border. Unconfirmed reports said that the US-led troops including Afghan soldiers raided the Mangretae-Rakha area of South Waziristan, also known as Rakha-Birmal, in the Pakistani tribal areas at around 2:00 pm on Monday and started firing at about 8:00 pm, which continued till Tuesday morning. Sources in the Pakistani northwest frontier province's Home and Tribal Affairs Department, however, said they had no information about the incident. The people of the area retaliated but the coalition troops succeeded in abducting Saral Khan and Rasul Khan, both belonging to the Saedgi Wazir tribe. In the crossfire 18 coalition troops, including 13 of their Afghan allies, were reportedly killed. Local journalist in the South Waziristan Agency headquarters, Wana, told Pravda.ru over phone that the reports reaching the agency headquarters suggest that about five coalition men and thirteen of their Afghan allies were killed in the shootout. They also said that the casualties may reach many times high as the coalition troops had cordoned off all the area and the routes leading to the Rakha-Birmal had been closed, which had made difficult for locals to reach the area and confirm the exact situation. They even said that the US helicopters had been manoeuvring the area and bombers have been called in which kept the area under bombardment whole the night and even the Mangroti mountain and its adjacent villages were being bombarded. It merits a mention here that the coalition troops had also on Monday attacked the area of Gorvek, where the legendary fighter Faqir Ipi, who fought the British colonial rule is taking his eternal sleep. The people of the area had on Monday vowed to retaliate any such move and the Tuesday crossfire is also said to be the outcome of the same preparations. It was also reported that six vehicles carrying the coalition troops and their Afghan allies were totally destroyed by the tribal people who used sophisticated weapons. On Tuesday Corps Commander Lt Gen Ali Muhammad Jan Orakzai also visited Miran Shah, the headquarters of North Waziristan Agency, to address the Pakistani troops deployed along the Pak-Afghan border. Till the last reports came in, American warplanes were bombing the area, reinforcing reports of heavy casualties on both the sides. Given the lack of access to the remote border area, the reported shootout could not be confirmed independently.
Safiullah Gul PRAVDA.Ru
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