Infantry troops enter NWA operation areas
RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan Army infantry troops, including SSG commandos, have entered the most difficult mountainous region in the tribal areas in search of terrorist hideouts, military sources said.
According to sources, after the destruction of arms depots, militants will not be in a position to launch attacks on security forces for a long period. These sources said the bombardment of the fighter aircraft was continuing in North Waziristan tribal region and more militants were likely to be eliminated.
Our correspondent adds from Miranshah: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter aircraft pounded suspected positions of militants in the North Waziristan Agency on Wednesday night and reportedly killed 40 militants.
Military officials said the jets carried out air strikes following intelligence reports about the presence of senior local and foreign militants in the area.Officials put the number of deaths of militants in these strikes at more than 35 and it was claimed that mostly Uzbek militants were killed.
Meanwhile, Reuters, quoting security officials, reported that at least 40 people were killed in the bombing. The jets pounded suspected hideouts in the Khushali village, Mir Ali subdivision, and in the remote Dattakhel area and Shawal Valley, all located in North Waziristan.
In Mir Ali, military officials said 15 militants were killed and their sanctuaries were smashed. The dead, they said, included foreign fighters, including Uzbeks, Chechens and Arabs.
According to officials, a senior militant commander Abdul Sattar was running one of the four training centres blitzed by the jets in Khushali village in Mir Ali. Local tribesmen in Mir Ali said the jets started bombing around midnight on Wednesday.
In Dattakhel, located near the Afghanistan border, the jets targeted four suspected positions of militants but there was no information about any casualty there.Local villagers said the jets bombed four houses where no one was residing for the past few months.
Meanwhile, local sources, including officials of the political administration, said a foreign militant known as Tajiki and belonging to Tajikistan was among those killed in the air strikes. They said another foreign militant, Abdul Sattar, who happened to be an Uzbek, was also killed. The third slain foreign militant who was identified was Abu Zubair who happened to be an Arab national. An Uzbeki woman, Bilquis, was also killed in the bombardment.
The sources said five militants’ compounds were hit, including two each in the Khushali village and Shawal Valley and one in Dattakhel. They added that the first bombing raid by the two jet fighters was carried out at 12:20am in the Khushali village. They said one of the compounds that was bombed in the Khushali village housed the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters led by commander Jehadyar Mehsud. It wasn’t known if he was killed, but some of his men were reportedly slain in the air strike.
In Dattakhel, the sources said a large house owned by a tribesman, Maula Khan, was bombed by the jets. They said five foreign militants were killed and three wounded in the air strikes on this house, a portion of which was being used by the owner, Maula Khan.
Sources in the political administration and locals initially gave a count of 15 confirmed deaths in the air strikes. Later, they said not more than 17-18 were killed. The PAF fighter aircraft also flew over parts of North Waziristan on Thursday but didn’t carry out any raids.
The air strikes caused concern in North Waziristan and prompted many families to start planning to leave their villages and move to safer places. There were fears that it could be the start of a large-scale military action in North Waziristan following the breakdown of peace talks between the government and the TTP. A large number of families had moved out, mostly from Mir Ali sub-division, due to the previous two rounds of air strikes by the PAF and the army and shifted to Bannu, Karak and other areas.
Our correspondent adds from Bara: Three militants were killed and six others were injured when the Pakistan Army’s helicopter gunships hit various targets in Bara Tehsil of Khyber Agency on Thursday, local and official sources said.
The sources said that two helicopter gunships pounded the suspected positions of militants in Alamgudar, Mandikas, Nala, Madakhel and Haji Rasool Jan Killay.They said three suspected militants were killed while six were injured in the shelling.
Official sources claimed that several hideouts of the militants, including a factory making bombs and improvised explosive devices, was also destroyed in the air strikes. However, this could not be verified independently.
Official sources said the hideouts of those militants were targeted who were involved in the recent attacks on cinemas in Peshawar and the assassination of Major Jehanzeb, who was martyred during an ambush in the Frontier Region, Peshawar.The helicopter gunships flew in the area for more than an hour, causing fear among the people who preferred to stay indoors.
Muhammad Anis adds from Islamabad: Military sources said that 16 Uzbek terrorists were killed in air strikes in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan on late Wednesday night. “It is confirmed that in the last night (Wednesday) air strikes in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, 16 Uzbek terrorists were killed,” the military sources said.The sources also said that seven terrorists, including three suicide bombers and an important commander, were killed in air strikes in the Khyber Agency on Thursday.