The army captured the hometown of Pakistan's Taliban chief today, snagging its first big prize in a major US-backed offensive along the Afghan border. Helicopter gunships provided aerial bombardment as soldiers captured heights around the town of Kotkai. The final fight saw 13 militants and two soldiers die; the military has begun to clear the town of land mines and roadside bombs planted by the insurgents.
Kotkai is symbolically important because it is the hometown of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and one of his top deputies. It also lies along the way to the major militant base of Sararogha, making it a strategically helpful catch. Elsewhere in the northwest, a suspected US missile killed 14 people, but apparently missed a top Taliban figure, the AP reports.