Military launches ground offensive in Waziristan

*15 terrorists killed on first day of ground operation *Underground tunnels and IEDs production factories seized*House-to-house search underway in Miranshah

ISLAMABAD: In a crucial development, army on Monday launched a ground operation in the Miranshah subdivision of North Waziristan Agency (NWA), following the completion of the civilian population’s evacuation from the tribal agency last week.
As many as 15 terrorists were reported dead in the ground offensive on Monday. Since the launch of operation Zarb-e-Azb on June 15, 376 terrorists have been killed, 19 have surrendered to the security forces and 61 terrorist hideouts have been destroyed. Meanwhile, 17 soldiers have lost their lives, the military said on Monday. Infantry troops and Special Services Group (SSG), the army’s elite commando wing, are engaged in a search operation in Miranshah.
Talking to Daily Times by phone on Monday, NWA Political Agent Siraj Ahmad Khan said the civilian displacements from the NWA to other areas had completed last week and no evacuation has taken place since then. He said the security forces and political administration were making sure that no civilians were stranded in any part of the NWA. More than 460,000 people are out of the NWA, according to Khan.
“Although there is no civilian population in the NWA now, we are making sure that the civilians are not stuck or made hostage by the militants. For this purpose, search operations are being launched across the tribal agency,” the political agent said. The security forces, he said, were pursuing Zarb-e-Azb operation on “methodical lines”. “The troublesome areas of Miranshah, Mir Ali, Ghulam Khan, Shawal and other parts would be cleared as per plan. So far, the operation has been a complete success and the security forces are hopeful that it would yield hundred percent results throughout.”
According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), after evacuation of all the civilian population, the ground operation commenced in and around Miranshah early Monday morning. “House-to-house search of Miranshah town is being carried out by infantry troops and Special Services Group. Fifteen terrorists have been killed in ground offensive so far. Troops have discovered underground tunnels and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) preparation factories inside the so far cleared area. Three soldiers got injured in the exchange of fire,” a Zarb-e-Azb operation update said on Monday.
Integrated fire of artillery, tanks and other heavy weapons is being carried out on terrorist concentrations in Mirali and other areas, it said. “An effective cordon is in place at other areas housing terrorists.” On the situation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), the ISPR said distribution of relief items for IDPs continues at Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Tank. The break-up of relief goods and humanitarian assistance to IDPs suggests, as many as 30,000 ration packs, each of 110 kilogramme, have been distributed so far. 
Up to 276 tonnes of ration has been collected so far at 55 relief donations points established in major cities of the country and being transported to Bannu. As many as 5,665 patients have been treated at the Field Medical Hospital established at Khalifa Gul Nawaz hospital in Bannu by the army. Moreover, 6,435 cattle have been provided veterinary treatment, while 17,659 cattle and 30,545 poultry have been vaccinated.

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