Battle of Wana
- Not to be confused with the Battle of Wanat.
|Battle of Wana|
|Part of the War in North-West Pakistan|
Map of the area involved in the fighting
| State of Pakistan
|Commanders and leaders|
| LGen Ali Jan Aurakzai
MGen Niaz Khattak
BGen Noel Israel
| Nek Muhammad Wazir †
|IX Infantry Division
4th Army Squadron
XX Mountain Brigade
|Unknown (possibly 9,000-15,000 soldiers)||400 Al-Qaeda fighters|
|Casualties and losses|
|49 soldiers killed,
11 soldiers captured,
33 soldiers wounded
|55 Al-Qaida fighters killed,
149 fighters captured
|15 civilians killed|
The Battle of Wana was a military engagement between Pakistan Army and the Taliban forces, supported by the foreign fighters of Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda. The battle was among one of the bloodiest battle fought by the Pakistan Army, and it ended violently with 49 infantry troop soldiers dead. Hence, it was the first battle that was fought between Pakistani infantry/ mountaineering troops and the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies (Foreign fighters) which led to start the War in North West-Pakistan. In March 2004, heavy and bloody fighting broke out at Azam Warsak, near the South Waziristan town of Wana, where Pakistani government's Army infantry troops faced an estimated 400 Al-Qaeda fighters holed up in several fortified settlements.
Wana (Pashto: واڼۀ, pronounced [ˈwɑɳə]) is a small town inhabitant by the Wazir Tribes. The town is situated in complex series of White mountains in western Pakistan. The town closely aligned with adjacent country, Afghanistan.
In early months of 2002, Pakistan Army sent and deployed large formation of Infantry and Mountaineering Divisions. The Mountaineering and Infantry Divisions were deployed under the command of Lieutenant-General Ali Jan Aurakzai, who later became Governor of North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. The Army Divisions entered the Tirah Valley in the Khyber Agency for the first time since Pakistan independence in 1947. The troops were later proceeded to move into the Shawal Valley of North Waziristan, and later South Waziristan.
In late December 2003, the tension between Pakistan Government and the Waziri tribes mounted as the tribe leaders viewed the action as an attempt to subjugate them.
The Battle for Mountains 
On March 16, 2004, the Army made first contact with the Taliban forces and Al-Qaeda fighters around the South Waziristan's small village of Wana. Heavy and intensified fighting between Army infantry troops and Taliban fighters began in the small village of Wana, though Taliban had evacuated the village but Army had suffered heavy casualties. Soon after the bloody confrontation, the Pakistan Army deployed its 20th Mountain Brigade to support operations in the mountainous areas. Two days later, on March 18, 2004, reports began to surface that the Pakistani military had surrounded a “high-value” target, possibly Al-Qaeda's second-in-command Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri. However, both the Pakistani and U.S. military refused to confirm or deny Zawahiri’s presence. The Pakistani infantry army surrounded the mountain redoubt where Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters were well dug-in. Heavy fighting ensued, and repeated assaults were beaten back by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. Pakistani Army forces suffered heavy casualties.
As troops pushed into the mountains, the Taliban forces launched aggressive attacks on Pakistani troops as more and more foreign fighters belonging to Al-Qaeda began to join the fight. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters had set up their main strategic posts at the top of the mountains allowing them to observe the movements of the Pakistani Army infantry and mountaineering troops. The subsequent air strikes led by Pakistan Army Corps of Aviation targeted the suspected posts and hidden positions of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. Following the air strikes, the infantry troops redoubled their efforts to gain control of the mountains.
In the night of March 18, 2004, a heavy and bloody gun battle occurred wherein infantry troops had repeatedly beaten the assaults after assaults. After days of heavy and intensified fighting, the infantry troops gained the control of key positions in the mountains which the Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters had previously held. Sporadic fighting continued as the infantry units began to pursue the Al-Qaeda fighters. Soon, all the strategic mountain posts were evacuated by the Al-Qaeda fighters as the infantry troops had reached at the top of the mountains. By the dawn, the infantry troops with the help of 20th Mountain Brigade had taken control of mountains. The success came with a heavy human price paid by the Army.
To re-gain their territory, Taliban launched aggressive campaigns against the Army at night which continued until dawn. The Army then responded with decisive attacks, and the battle was soon slipped to adjacent mountains as the Al-Qaida fighters began to escaped. Both sides had suffered heavy human casualties, and next morning, Taliban forces began abandoning their positions fleeing from the area. As requested by the theater commander, additional Army infantry and Mountain troops were rushed to help the remaining fighting troops. The battle ended soon after as reinforcements arrived and took their positions. With the arrival of the mountain troops, the Army intensified pressure on Al-Qaeda fighters to surrender. A week later, the Pakistani Army captured the entire mountainous area along with hundreds of Al-Qaeda fighters.
Tunnels were discovered at the site of the battle that led into Afghanistan, possible Tora Bora region. On March 20, 2004, Pakistani infantry troops reported seeing a mysterious "foreigner" fleeing the scene of the siege, and while positive that it was not Osama bin Laden, theorized that it may well have been Dr. Zawahiri.
By March 23, 2004, after a week of heavy and bloody battle, the fighting was over and the Army had taken all of the key Taliban positions defeating the Taliban forces after a week of intensified mountainous battle. Later, the 20th Mountain Brigade of Army took control of the mountains and sat up the well organized posts. The Army also sends its investigators from "M.I. Directorate for High Value Target Acquisition".
The Army incurred casualties consisting of 49 soldiers killed, 33 wounded, and 11 captured (all of whom were released on March 28, 2004), inflicting on the Taliban losses of 55 fighters killed and 149 captured. Battle of Wana concluded with Army's decisive success, but it has suffered the heavy human casualties. Battle of Wana also led to open the unannounced war in Pakistan.
See also 
- "49 Pakistani troops dead or missing so far in Al-Qaeda offensive". Spacewar.com. 2004-03-23. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
- "Action Update: March 15–28, 2004". Cdi.org. 2004-03-31. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
- CNN (May 6, 2004). "Pakistan: 100 fighters captured in battle".
- "Fierce battle in al Qaeda hunt". CNN. March 17, 2004.