Large swathes of Ragjal Valley cleansed of terrorists

Several hideouts decimated in blitzkrieg; 13 terrorists eliminated


Our Correspondent July 20, 2017

PESHAWAR: Several hideouts of terrorists were decimated in a synchronised blitzkrieg by army and air force in the Rajgal Valley of Khyber Agency where a major offensive was launched on Sunday to prevent the Afghanistan-based franchise of the Islamic State (IS) from making inroads into the tribal regions.

At least 13 terrorists were killed and six others injured in targeted strikes by PAF jets, Army Aviation and artillery, said the ISPR, military’s media wing, on Thursday in updates on the operation codenamed Khyber-4.

Operation Khyber-4 is part of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad or Elimination of Discord, and was launched in February after a sharp uptick in terrorist attacks in the country. It is aimed at “indiscriminately eliminating the residual/latent threat of terrorism", consolidating the gains made in other military operations.

According to the ISPR, 90 square kilometres of the area has been neutralised as Pakistani troops advanced from multiple directions to exterminate and debilitate the terrorists.

“Terrorists had laid a number of IEDs [improvised explosives devices] which have been detected, recovered and neutralised by Pakistan Army Engineers Counter-IED teams,” it said.

Operation Khyber-4: Offensive launched to deny Da’ish foothold in FATA

The operation in Rajgal Valley is critical as “it could provide a key route to IS terrorists operating from Afghanistan to establish a foothold in Pakistan”, it added.

Officials in Pakistan deny that the IS – also known by its Arabic acronym Da’ish – has an organised presence in the country, though the Middle Eastern terrorist group has claimed responsibility for some attacks.

“Rajgal is the last stronghold of terrorists holed up on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border regions,” a senior security official in Peshawar told The Express Tribune.

According to him, Operation Khyber-4 is perfectly timed because the region, which has extremely difficult terrain, becomes impenetrable in winters.

“The recent deadly bombings in Parachinar, Kurram Agency, have been traced to this region,” the official said while referring to last month’s twin bomb attacks on the Shia community that claimed 76 lives and left more than 160 injured.

“PAF and Special Services Group (SSG) are operating in the area,” he added.

Geographically, Tirah Valley’s mountains overlook parts of Kurram Agency. Of late, the IS has gained ground in the infamous Tora Bora mountains, situated in the Pachir Aw Agam district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province that borders Khyber and Kurram agencies.

“The aim of the operation is to deny terrorists any space in the area and to restore normalcy in the region,” the official said. “It is targeted at Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-e-Islam, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and its breakaway faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar who have in their midst elements sympathetic to Da’ish.”

A Pakistan Army soldier, Sepoy Abdul Jabbar, was martyred in the Rajgal operation. The funeral of the Shaheed soldier was offered at Peshawar garrison and attended by Corps Commander Peshawar Lt-Gen Nazir Ahmed Butt and other senior civil and military officials.

The corps commander also visited the areas of Rajgal Valley which have been cleared by troops. IG FC (N) Maj-Gen Shaheen Mazhar Mahmood, Commander of Operation Khyber-4, updated Lt-Gen Butt on the progress made thus far. The corps commander appreciated the morale and achievements of the troops.

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