ISLAMABAD: The military has cleared 80 percent of Miranshah of terrorists during the ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan, media reports said on Wednesday.
Seventh Infantry Division General Officer Commanding (GOC) Major General Zafarullah Khan made the revelation on Wednesday, adding that the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur would be eliminated without any delay, if spotted. Bahadur is known to have links with notorious militant groups in tribal North Waziristan, including the Haqqani network. He further said that there has been evidence of al Qaeda’s presence in the area, and the army is still facing resistance in some areas. Khan said that the civilian population was not targeted during the operation. This information, however, could not be independently verified. General Khan acknowledged that foreign and local militants were residing in the area.
The security forces on Wednesday claimed to have killed at least 11 terrorists following surgical assaults on the terror hideouts in Shawal area of the North Waziristan Agency. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jet fighters led the surgical mission during the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday. This was the third aerial mission launched since the start of ground action in the tribal agency on June 30. Since last week, surgical strikes are being carried out in different parts of NWA, especially in Miranshah, after security forces faced enormous resistance from the militants during ground operation.
According to military sources, Shawal is regarded as the “den” of terrorists, with maximum concentration of high-valued targets from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. “A significant number of terrorists in NWA is based in Shawal. This is the breeding ground of the militants,” a security official told Daily Times. “Adequate aerial response is vital to secure the area before ground enforcements,” the official observed. One of the major challenges for the security forces in Shawal involved underground caves and tunnels the militants were taking refuge in, the official said. Some of them are up to hundred-foot deep, he added. “The destruction of such kind of hideouts requires powerful ground action augmented by surgical strikes to crush resistance.” Presently, the ground operation is underway only in the Miranshah subdivision of the NWA.
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