Sigh: Taliban escapes from Pakistani assault on South Waziristan

Pakistani Taliban militants have escaped primarily to Kurram and Orakzai, districts outside the battle zone but still within Pakistan’s largely ungoverned tribal areas along the Afghan border, villagers there say. The military lacks a significant presence in much of these areas, making them an ideal environment for the Islamic militants to regroup.

Newly arrived militants have terrorized Pashtun residents and replenished their coffers through kidnappings and robberies, villagers said during interviews in the Kurram and Orakzai districts. With AK-47s and rocket launchers slung over their shoulders, the militants have begun patrols through the new territory and have set up checkpoints…

None of the Pakistani Taliban’s top leaders have been reported captured or killed. And accounts from villagers in nearby districts suggest that many militants simply fled South Waziristan…

Taliban and Al Qaeda militants were able to easily flee South Waziristan, experts say, because government and military leaders announced their intent to carry out a major offensive in the region weeks before troops moved in. That gave militants ample time to make their escape.