For the second day in a row, Pakistani troops abandoned an army base in South Waziristan, a region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border that is a stronghold for militants. And this time, the militants didn't even attack.
One hundred frontier troops in the Chagmalai Fort received threats from militants and apparently decided it was a better idea to flee than to stay and defend themselves, an intelligence source and local residents told ABC News. The fort was filled with heavy weaponry, including artillery guns and rocket propelled grenades.
"They've abandoned the place," Abid, who lives in the area, told ABC News as helicopters circled overhead. "They've made so many blockades, we can't even get food, and we only have three to four rations left."
The abandonment comes one day after 22 soldiers were killed by as many as 600 militants who overran the nearby Sararogha fort. It was one of the first times that militants have forcibly captured an army fort, representing an embarrassing defeat for the government and the Pakistani military.
The militants' victories are more evidence that the pro-Taliban insurgency is growing in Pakistan's tribal areas, and what little confidence there once was in the Pakistani military to fight back is virtually gone.
The military, analysts say, is unable -- or at least unwilling -- to stand up against the Taliban and its allies in the tribal areas, an area the size of Luxemburg along the border with Afghanistan. And the militants have managed to stop their infighting and unite themselves under the title of Taliban Movement of Pakistan.
"This group has decided that they will collectively respond to any military operation by the Pakistani authorities and they were demanding an end to the military operations by the Pakistan army in Waziristan, Swat and other areas," says Rahimullah Yusufzai, an ABC consultant who has covered the Taliban since its inception. "And they also gave a threat. That if these military operations were not stopped, then they would react: They would launch more attacks in Pakistan."
In a secret meeting held last month in South Waziristan, delegates from more than 26 militant groups joined forces and chose a man named Baitullah Mehsud as their leader, tribal sources told ABC News.
Mehsud, also known as the emir of South Waziristan, is described as a brutal and able leader who commands thousands of fighters. He is, for Pakistan, more dangerous than Osama bin Laden.
"He seems to have a large reservoir of suicide bombers, and he is a bigger threat in this region -- in Pakistan and certain border provinces of Afghanistan -- than even the al Qaeda leadership," Yusufzai said.
His attacks are getting more sophisticated. Militant groups from North and South Waziristan, who had never worked together before are now coordinating. Yusufzai called Mehsud's operational capabilites "remarkable."
"He's able to target the precise unit or department or organization, which is involved in military operations against him or his allies," Yusufzai said. "He's able to hit any place, any where, any time."
Although the militants never take responsibility for suicide attacks, which are now almost a daily event in Pakistan, analysts do link moves made by the military against Islamic radicals in the cities and in the frontier agencies with some 400 attacks in the last year. The targets are mostly police and soldiers, but civilians have died as well.