23 terrorists killed, more than 70,000 IDPs out of NWA

* Army, air chiefs review Zarb-e-Azb operational progress

ISLAMABAD: At least 23 militants were reported dead on Thursday in the ongoing aerial strikes and ground action of security forces in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) as two defence services chiefs held a crucial meeting to review operational progress on the operation Zarb-e-Azb. 
The security forces and political administration in the NWA continued to relax the curfew hours in the NWA on the second consecutive day as part of three-day relaxation given to the civilian population to allow maximum evacuation of the locals to alternate areas. 
Moreover, according to fresh update issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), 15 terrorists were killed in Zartatangi mountain heights, East of Miranshah, by the Army gunship Cobra helicopters last night (Wednesday) when spotted. “It was one of the main communication centres of terrorists,” the ISPR said.
In a separate sniper action, the ISPR said, eight Uzbeks were killed around Miranshah while planting IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) on Miranshah-Mir Ali Road.
“Cordoning off in areas housing terrorists in North Wazirstan Agency continues. Continuous attempt of terrorists to flee from area have been foiled,” the update said.
On Thursday, evacuation of civil population from Miranshah and Ghulam Khan started, it added. Checkpoints have been established at various places where IDPs are being provided all administrative support including food items and medicine by security forces. The number of registration points at Saidgai Post are enhanced to 20, 10 each for males and females for speedy and organised evacuation and an IDP camp at Bannu has been established, the ISPR stated in its update.
In a linked development, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif visited Air Headquarters to meet with Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt. Progress on the ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb was reviewed and matters of mutual interest were discussed, a brief military statement said.
Meanwhile, talking to Daily Times, NWA Political Agent Siraj Ahmad Khan said that more than 70,000 IDPs were out of the agency now. 
“We have made adequate arrangements to facilitate their stay in Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Lakki Marwat and other parts where IDPs camps are established.” 
Khan said that the three-day curfew relaxation would end today (Friday) and the government was not stopping IDPs from staying with their relatives or friends if they wanted to. 
To a query, the political agent said: “A majority of civilians is out of the NWA and noose is tightened around the militants who would be taken on very soon.” He said the militants encircled in Miranshah and Mir Ali would not have any option but to surrender to security forces once their ration and food stocks get exhausted. He refused to share any more details on the NWA operation citing operational secrecy and sensitivity involving the matter. 

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