Three high profile militants were killed in Shawal Valley on Monday in a drone strike by Pakistan’s first indigenous armed drone, ‘Burraq’, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
“First ever use of Pakistani made Buraq drone today. A terrorist compound was hit in Shawal Valley, killing three high profile terrorists,” DG ISPR Asim Bajwa said on Twitter.
The remotely-piloted aircraft ‘Burraq’ and laser-guided missile ‘Burq’ were tested on March 14, taking Pakistan a step closer to acquiring the technology it has long demanded from the United States.
Earlier, security officials said the indigenously-developed armed drone ‘Burraq’ has turned the tide against the militants in the offensive in Tirah Valley. Senior security officials told Express News that much before ‘Burraq’ was publicly showcased it had been tested in live combat against militants in the Tirah Valley.
A ground offensive was launched by Pakistan Army in North Waziristan Agency’s mountainous Shawal Valley last month as it is regarded as the last haven of fleeing homegrown militants and their foreign cohorts.
Since May, the military has stepped up operations in the deeply forested ravines of the Shawal Valley – which straddles North and South Waziristan agencies along the border with Afghanistan – and softened militant targets in the valley through continued airstrikes.
The deeply forested ravines of Shawal Valley and Datta Khel are popular smuggling routes between Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan, and are dotted with militant bases used as launch pads for attacks on Pakistani forces.
The area is a stronghold of Khan Sajna Said, the leader of a Taliban faction whose name the United States put on a sanctions list of ‘specially designated global terrorists” last year.
Banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan used to control all of mountainous NWA, which includes the Shawal Valley and Datta Khel, and runs along the Afghan border. But Pakistan Army recaptured most of the region in a major armed operation, codenamed Zarb-e-Azb, which was launched in June 2014.
North Waziristan used to be the Pakistani Taliban’s last key stronghold until the start of the operation. Officials claim that nearly 3,000 militants have been killed since the launch of the offensive. Authorities have now vowed to intensify operations both in the border regions and across the country.