Jet fighters target militant hideouts, kill Uzbek militants in North Waziristan

In some areas, local population made hostage by foreign fighters

MIRAMSHAH/BANNU – Pakistani jets bombed militant hideouts in a North Waziristan tribal agency on Saturday, killing scores of Uzbek and local insurgents in a massive ongoing offensive against the Taliban, the military said.

Air strikes were carried out at Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, and Boya village after shots were fired at troops, according to a statement. “Five terrorists hideouts, caves and huge cache of arms and ammunition were destroyed and scores of terrorists killed in early morning strikes,” it said.

"Most of the terrorists killed in strikes were Uzbeks," the statement added without providing casualty figures. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an Al Qaeda affiliate, has had a large presence in tribal belt since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

A local news service reported that the suspected militant hideouts in Daigan, Poikhel and Muhammadkhel areas were targeted and destroyed during the airstrikes. So far, more than 400 suspected militants – mostly foreigners – have been killed during the operation.

At least 19 improvised explosive device (IED) making factories have also been unearthed by the security forces in parts of Miramshah. The news service reported that most of the houses in Miramshah contained IEDs and most of the roads in the area were planted with explosives and landmines.

A high-level officer privy to the developments in the military operation stated that foreign fighters of different origins had made the locals hostage. During search operations, the security forces recovered literature and flags of different international militant organisations, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, the Uighurs etc.

The literature in different languages was also found during search operations, the officer said. Last month, the military launched a long-awaited offensive in North Waziristan, aimed at wiping out longstanding militant strongholds in the area.

More than 500,000 people have fled the area with tens of thousands of families have leaving for the town of Bannu, close to North Waziristan. Jets and artillery began hitting militant targets on June 15 to try to regain full control of the area.

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Aaj Kal