Waziristan sanctuaries: Army chief orders sweeping action

Up to 50 militants slain in fresh air, ground offensives; six troops die in IED attack.

COAS General Raheel Sharif during his visit to Corps Headquarters Peshawar for briefing on operation ZARB-E-AZB on Monday. PHOTO: ISPR

MIRAMSHAH/ ISLAMABAD:


Another 50 suspected militants were killed in fresh air and ground offensives in North Waziristan Agency, as the army chief directed the security forces to eliminate all terrorists and their sanctuaries ‘without any discrimination’.


The instruction by General Raheel Sharif, who visited the corps headquarters Peshawar to monitor the progress so far achieved in Operation Zarb-e-Azb, appears to be aimed at dispelling the impression that the ongoing operation might be selective.

“The military has been given the task of purging the area of all kinds of groups,” a senior military official said without naming Haqqani Network or Hafiz Gul Bahadur faction, which primarily target foreign forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief was given a detailed briefing on Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Gen Sharif expressed satisfaction over the preparation and progress of the operation and emphasised that all terrorists and their sanctuaries must be eliminated without any discrimination.

“The operation is not targeted against our valiant tribes of North Waziristan but against those terrorists who are holed up in the agency and have picked up arms against the state of Pakistan,” Gen Raheel was quoted as saying by the ISPR.



A map of North Waziristan showing the presence of various militant groups in the area. SOURCES: AEI/CRITICALTHREATS.ORG

The army chief also directed all concerned to undertake special measures towards diligent management of the IDPs – the tribesmen displaced by fighting – in conjunction with the relevant civilian agencies.

He reiterated that with the support of the nation, “particularly of our proud tribal brethren, Operation Zarb-e-Azb will be concluded successfully and comprehensively”.

First ground encounter

The latest figures put the number of suspected militants killed since Sunday night’s massive air strikes to 190. According to the ISPR, at least two soldiers ‘embraced Shahadat’ during an encounter with terrorists in the area.

Separately, six soldiers lost their lives while three others sustained injuries in an improvised explosive device {IED] explosion on the border between Afghanistan and Ghulam Khan tehsil of North Waziristan.

An official of security forces said that militants remotely triggered a high intensity IED on Ghulam Khan Road near Bangi Dar area when a military convoy drove past. He added that the casualties were rushed to Miramshah Fort from where the injured were airlifted to the Combined Military Hospital in Bannu.

Monday saw the first ground encounter between the security forces and militants since the government ordered the all-out offensive against foreign and local terrorists in the region.

A senior security official told The Express Tribune that security forces surrounded a group of suspected militants in the Shawal tehsil. At least seven of them were killed when they attempted to flee.

Separately, seven terrorists were killed during a gunfight with security forces. At least two soldiers also lost their lives in the first such causalities from the army since the operation was launched.

Security officials disclosed that so far the troops met with little resistance from the suspected terrorists. While the security forces are gradually entering the strongholds of militants, air strikes also continued for the second consecutive day.

The military’s media wing said as many as 33 suspected terrorists were killed when their hideouts were targeted through ‘precise strikes,” in Shawal. “There is no civil population in the area,” the ISPR said.

A security official based in the area added that the warplanes pounded two schools in Manra and Gurbaz areas of Shawal which were taken over by militants. Both buildings were flattened in the air raid. Militants pulled out the bodies from the rubbles and shifted them to an undisclosed location for burial.

The official said the security forces have advanced into different areas of Mirali, Miramshah and Datta Khel tehsils where they have set up several check-posts and secured the local population.

Director General ISPR Major General Asim Salim Bajwa said operation in North Waziristan Agency was progressing as per plan. He made it clear that no operation in civil populated areas had been started so far.

“North Waziristan Agency has been isolated by deploying troops along its border with neighbouring agencies and FATA regions to block any move of terrorists in and out of the agency,” the chief military spokesperson added.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2014.

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COMMENTS (15)

truthbetold | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend

@PeaceMonger:

"If this had begun before Osama was found, Pakistan would have had a lot of support from the international community."

Well, the truth is that Pakistan should have turned a new leaf with regard to nurturing terrorists a long time ago before Osama was eliminated. The terror problem has its roots in Pakistan's strategy of creating, training and nurturing terrorists as tools for geopolitical policy goals. As a part of this strategy it invited and sheltered global terrorists such as Osama and his ilk.

The current operation of killing some of the Frankensteins created by the Pak army is not going to be a long-time solution unless Pakistan has truly dropped its policy of using terrorists as strategic instruments of foreign policy. My guess is, the army and the ISI will not give up their policy of nurturing "good" terrorists such as the LeT etc. Over time these "good" terrorists will again become "bad" terrorists because all these Islamic terrorists good or bad have a higher calling, viz., to convert Pakistan into an Islamic caliphate to launch their pan-Islamic goal of reestablishing Islamic superiority over the whole globe. In this goal, they think that the Islamic Caliphate of Pakistan with its nuclear arsenal would be the lynch pin on launching further global Jihad.

Muhammad | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend

Army should stay in the waziristan region after killing all the terrorists they can find. We should abolish the status of FATA and declare them settled areas. Those politicians who do not support this operation should be court martialled and given capital punishment for treason.

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