ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistani troops abandoned an outpost near the border with Afghanistan after receiving threats from Islamic militants who a day earlier overran a nearby fort, an intelligence official and a resident said Thursday.
However, the army immediately denied the report that the post at Saklatoi in South Waziristan had been evacuated by dozens of troops.
On Wednesday, militants overran the nearby Sararogha Fort in a pitched nighttime battle that left seven of its garrison dead and a number of troops missing. The British-era fort is one of a string of positions held by the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary along Pakistan's porous border with Afghanistan.
The defeat was seen as a major embarrassment to the government of President Pervez Musharraf, a major U.S. ally in the war against Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents in neighboring Afghanistan.
A resident in Jandola, a town about 10 miles from Saklatoi, confirmed that the roadside fort there had been evacuated. He said it held about 35 to 40 troops. He requested anonymity because he feared retribution from militants or the government.
The post lies in the Mehsud area of South Waziristan where fighters loyal to Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud are active.
An army intelligence officer said the paramilitary troops abandoned the roadside post without a fight after the militants warned them to vacate it or face an attack.
The officer, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the troops had reached the military base in the nearby town of Jandola.