Operation in Khyber Agency: Troops seize strategic Masatul Pass in Tirah Valley

Published: March 24, 2015
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A file photo of security forces. PHOTO: AFP

A file photo of security forces. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: The chief military spokesperson has claimed ‘significant’ successes in fresh air strikes against the hideouts of militants in a remote valley of Khyber Agency Sunday night. He has also claimed that a strategic mountainous pass used by militants for movement between Pakistan and Afghanistan has also been captured by security forces.

“Significant effects achieved by air strikes last night targeting terrorists in [an] area close to Afghan border,” ISPR Director General Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said on Twitter while giving updates on Operation Khyber-II. Terrorists have been dislodged from Sokh, the central area of operation, he said, calling it a ‘serious setback’ for terrorists who suffered heavy casualties in the blitz.

The security forces are consolidating their positions, he said, adding that the strategic Masatul Pass used by terrorists for movement between Pakistan and Afghanistan has also been seized by security forces. “Noose [is] being tightened [around the terrorists].”

The latest air blitz started on Saturday and is still ongoing. Officials and tribal sources said 27 militants have been killed over the past two days. The identity of those killed was not immediately known, but officials believe they included some hardcore fighters.

There was no official confirmation of Sunday night’s electronic media reports about the killing of Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah in the latest air strikes. The reports were triggered by sharing of pictures on social media of two militants killed in the Tirah strikes – one of which had resemblance with Fazlullah.

No military official or political leader confirmed Fazlullah’s killing in the latest round of air strikes, while the Taliban spokesperson contradicted the media reports. “I also received reports [of Fazlullah’s death] but it could not be confirmed so far,” K-P Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.

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