Waziristan fighting: 35 militants killed in air raids, gunfights

Hideouts of militants targeted in N Waziristan; attack on check post repulsed in South Waziristan

Our Correspondents April 23, 2015
A file photo of security forces. PHOTO: AFP


Though the Waziristan region has been largely purged of terrorists, targeted air strikes and sporadic clashes continue in the area which was once the stronghold of homegrown militants and their foreign cohorts. Military officials claimed on Wednesday that at least 35 militants were killed in air blitz and gunfights in North and South Waziristan agencies. 

Military warplanes bombed the hideouts of suspected militants in Data Khel Tehsil of North Waziristan, a security official said, adding that at least 22 militants were killed in the air raid. No details of the air strike were shared with the media, while there was no independent confirmation of the official claim.

North Waziristan has been off limits for media persons since the military launched a massive operation in the region, codenamed Zarb-e-Azb, in mid-July, last year. Hundreds of thousands of tribesmen displaced by the operation have started returning to their homes in areas declared safe by the military.

In the neighbourhing South Waziristan, the military repulsed a Taliban attack on a security check post and killed eight attackers. The check post is located in the Push Ziarat area of Makeen Tehsil, which shares a border with the Razmak area of North Waziristan.

According to a security official, dozens of militants attacked the check post with light and heavy weapons in early hours of Wednesday. “They fired around 45 rocket-propelled grenades.

The troops manning the check post successfully repulsed the assault and killed eight attackers, including their commander, identified as Malang,” he said.

The official said seven soldiers were also wounded in the attack and were subsequently airlifted to a military hospital in nearby Bannu city.

In a subsequent cordon and search operation, five terrorists were killed in the Shakto area of South Waziristan, according to the military.

“The fleeing militants left behind four dead bodies,” the military’s media wing, the ISPR, said in a statement.

A splinter group of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. “We captured two check posts and killed over a dozen security personals,” the group’s spokesperson, Azam Tariq, claimed in a statement. The militants often exaggerate their gains against the security forces.

The group, led by Khan Saeed Sajna, mostly operates in Ladha and Sarwakai sub-divisions of South Waziristan, where the Pakistani military had carried out Operation Rah-e-Najaat in 2009.

A couple of days back, security forces had claimed killing Farooq Zadran, a top commander of the Haqqani Network, in an area on the confluence of borders between North and South Waziristan agencies. Officials had also claimed arresting nine militants of the group.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2015.


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