Pakistan steps up border offensive
Troops fought militants and jets bombed insurgents near the Afghan border as Pakistan pressed its assault on Taliban and al-Qaeda strong points. Both sides claimed victories in South Waziristan, a wild semi-autonomous region the insurgents use as their base inside Pakistan for attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan and other Western targets. US central command chief, General David Petraeus, consulted with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and army commander while US Senator John Kerry met these same leaders to try to ease tensions over an American aid bill that has triggered tension between Pakistan's army and its civilian government. The offensive in South Waziristan is Pakistan's most important so far against militants who already control a large part of the northwest frontier region from which they have launched numerous attacks over the past several weeks, including a particularly audacious, day-long siege of Pakistan’s army headquarters. This military offensive, using 30,000 troops against 10,000 Pakistani militants and some 1,500 foreign fighters is designed to quash the Pakistani Taliban militants. As many as 150,000 civilians have fled the region since the army said it planned an assault and many more may flee soon.