Top Uzbek commander among 31 killed in strikes

* Army chief postpones visit to Sri Lanka due to NWA operation

ISLAMABAD: A top Uzbek commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), regarded as the “master of suicide bombings,” has been taken out in the air strikes in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA), it has been learnt.
The slain commander has been identified as Abu Asar, security officials claimed. The militant, the officials claimed, was supervising suicide attack missions in different parts across the country. Reportedly, he was targeted in the air strike in Shawal area of NWA during the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday. In addition, up to 30 militants were reported dead and six militants’ hideouts in the security forces-launched aerial strikes on Tuesday.
A fresh update from Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) on the NWA operation issued Tuesday said six terrorist’s hideouts including a training camp and an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) making factory around Hasokhel area were destroyed by jet aircrafts early Tuesday morning.  As many as 25 foreign and local terrorists were killed in the strikes. 
“Operation in North Waziristan Agency is progressing as per plan. The cordon around all terrorists’ hideouts including in the town of Mir Ali and Miranshah has been further tightened and reinforced. Last night (Monday night) three terrorists were killed while fleeing from the cordoned off area in Miranshah. One soldier got injured in exchange of fire,” it said.
In implied rejection of the reports that US drones were instrumental in the Zarb-e-Azb operation, the military statement said, “Air surveillance of the operational area with the help of own surveillance assets continues.” The ISPR said no operation in “built up” area has been started so far to ensure no terrorist escapes the cordon and all civil population is safely evacuated after their detailed verification. 
Necessary logistics and administrative arrangements for Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) have been completed by the political administration and disaster management agency, the military statement said. Security of IDPs camps is being ensured by army troops and air surveillance of the operational area with the help of own surveillance assets continues, it said. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s military chief on Tuesday postponed a scheduled foreign visit on account of his engagements concerning the ongoing full-scale operation in NWA.
According to ISPR, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif was scheduled to leave for Colombo on four-day visit. His visit has been postponed due to the NWA operation, the ISPR said. Military sources said, the new dates for the army chief’s visit would be decided by the next month. The army chief, the sources informed, is directly monitoring the NWA operation from a control room that was set up at the General Headquarters (GHQ) last week ahead of the launch of the NWA operation. “The GHQ has instructed the operational commanders of the respective field formations in the NWA to report minute-to-minute details of Zarb-e-Azb operation to general officer commanding 7th Infantry Division Miranshah. These updates are made available to the army chief through corps commander Peshawar and chief of general staff (CGS),” the officials informed.

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