Pakistani soldiers use multi-barrel rocket launchers to hit their targets during a military exercise. – AFP File Photo
Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif. – File Photo
Pakistan Army troop can be seen in this file photo. – AP
ISLAMABAD: At least 120 suspected militants were killed in North Waziristan tribal region during the 'Zarb-e-Azb' operation.
Earlier, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted to have said that at least 105 militants had been killed on Saturday.
At least 15 more suspected militants were killed in the early hours of Monday in the Mirali tehsil of North Waziristan tribal region where as several compounds were also destroyed, increasing the death toll to 120.
A day ago, the Pakistan Army launched a comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists who were hiding in sanctuaries in North Waziristan tribal region, a week after the brazen insurgent attack on the country's busiest airport in Karachi.
“The operation had been named Zarb-e-Azb,” said an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement on Sunday.
“Using North Waziristan as a base, these terrorists had waged a war against the state of Pakistan and had been disrupting our national life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property.”
“They had also paralysed life within the agency and had perpetually terrorised the entire peace loving and patriotic local population,” the statement quoted DG ISPR Maj Gen Asim Bajwa as saying.
He said, “Our valiant armed forces have been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and color, along with their sanctuaries.”
“With the support of the entire nation, and in coordination with other state institutions and Law Enforcement Agencies, these enemies of the state will be denied space anywhere across the country.”
“As always, armed forces of Pakistan will not hesitate in rendering any sacrifice for the motherland,” it added.
The all important announcement came after overnight air strikes by Pakistani jets that killed more than 50 foreign militants, mostly Uzbeks, in North Waziristan.
Strikes took place in the Boya tehsil, Degan forests and Datta Khel tehsil of North Waziristan.
After the announcement of the full-scale operation in the North Waziristan area, a security official on ground said that thousands of troops have been moved for action, AFP reported.
“Thousands of troops will participate in this action. You can roughly say 25,000 to 30,000 troops will be involved in the operation,” the official said on the condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to media.
Local security officials put the death toll far higher, saying that about 150 militants died in the air strikes, which primarily targeted Uzbek militants in a remote area of the tribal agency.
Among the dead were insurgents linked to last Monday's all-night siege of Karachi airport that killed 38 people, including 10 attackers, and all but destroyed a tentative peace process between the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the government.
Pressure had been mounting on the government to launch a ground offensive in the Taliban-infested North Waziristan tribal district.
Following the brazen assault in Karachi, the US carried out two drone strikes in North Waziristan on Wednesday, the first time the controversial programme has been used this year.
The same day, air force jets pounded suspected militant hideouts, leaving at least 25 dead.
It may be mentioned that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan had warned the government against launching a major military offensive against the militants in North Waziristan saying it would prove ‘suicidal’.
Terrorist bases in N Waziristan cordoned off: Army
North Waziristan Agency has been isolated by deploying troops along its border with neighbouring agencies and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) to block any movement of terrorists in and out of the Agency, said an ISPR statement issued on Sunday night.
“Within the Agency, troops have moved and cordoned off all terrorists bases, including in the town of Mirali and Miranshah.”
Briefing the media regarding “precise and targeted air strikes overnight,” it said that eight terrorist hideouts were destroyed in North Waziristan killing 105 terrorists, most of them Uzbek foreigners.
“Announcements will be made for local population to approach designated areas for their orderly and dignified evacuation out of the Agency,” said the ISPR statement.
Necessary Logistics and administrative arrangements for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) have been made by Political Administration and Disaster Management Agency, it said.
“Registration points and IDP camps have been made, as being announced by Civil Administration. Surrender points have also been made for those militants who chose to quit violence and give up their arms.”
Meanwhile, aerial surveillance of the area is being carried out by own aerial surveillance platforms, it added.
The Pakistan Army also said that Afghan security forces including Afghan National Army and Afghan Border Police have also been requested to seal the border on their side to facilitate elimination of terrorists who attempt to escape across the border.
They have also been requested to initiate immediate measures to eliminate Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists and their sanctuaries in Kunar, Nuristan and other areas of Afghanistan.