ISLAMABAD/LADHA: The military on Tuesday launched fresh strikes against Taliban hideouts in South and North Waziristan in which, according to security officials, 30 militants were killed.
“Thirty terrorists were killed in early morning air strikes on Taliban hideouts in Prayghar and Razan Nala areas of Pasht Ziarat in Shawal Valley. Simultaneous strikes were carried out also in Ghariom village,” a military spokesman said, adding that a number of hideouts were destroyed.
Other sources reported air attacks on Bobarh and Datta Khel areas in North Waziristan.
According to a security officer, insurgents who had fled to Mirali after Wednesday’s attack on their sanctuaries were hit in Bobarh and Ghariom. The area is home to a large number of terrorist training camps, he said.
The fresh strikes took place on the day the federal cabinet approved the long-awaited National Internal Security Policy.
The military started pounding Taliban sanctuaries in tribal areas with fighter jets and helicopter gunships last week after the government-TTP peace talks broke down in the wake of TTP’s killing of 23 Frontier Corps soldiers who were in their captivity and the Taliban attack on a military vehicle near Peshawar in which a major was killed.
Hideouts of terrorists in Mirali, Shawal, Datta Khel, Bara, Teerah and Thall have been targeted over the past week.Chief Military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa, speaking to Dawn, described the aerial strikes as “effective and highly successful”.
He said the strikes were ‘very precise’ and inflicted serious damage on terrorists.
“A lot of intelligence and hard work had gone into picking the targets that were spread wide throughout the region,” he said.
Gen Bajwa claimed that over 100 terrorists, including some senior commanders had been killed, while a larger number of insurgents were on the run.
Desired results, he said, were being achieved.
Explaining the broader objective of the bombing by PAF jets and the army’s helicopter gunships, the general said: “It were to punish those who were pretending to be talking peace with the government, but hitting at will.”
The spokesman also said that targets pounded in the Khyber Agency’s Bara and Teerah areas were associated with incidents in and around Peshawar, while in North Wazirstan the TTP’s core was being targeted.
Regarding Thall, he said, the air strike was carried out on the basis of specific intelligence.
Similar strikes late last month had forced the TTP to accept the government’s offer of talks and nominate a committee of negotiators led by JUI-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq. But the banned outfit in the meantime did not stop attacking security forces and people.
Local sources speaking from Bobarh said that five members of herdsman’s family were killed in the attack, but military sources denied any collateral damage in the air strike.
Noor Muhammad, a resident of Bobarh area, told Dawn that five non-combatants, including children and women, were killed in the air strike.
Security and intelligence agencies sources also said that military planes targeted Taliban positions in Dara Hibatkhel, Razin and Tangi Badinzai areas of Ladha tehsil and Bobarh area of Sararogha tehsil of South Waziristan early in the morning.
Meanwhile, Taliban denied having suffered any casualty in the air strike. They said they did not use these hideouts at night and the planes had targeted only vacated places.
The areas, according to sources, had been vacated by Mehsud tribesmen after the launching of Rahe Nijat military operation. The Mehsud militants, the sources said, had occupied the stretch between North and South Waziristan and established their hideouts. It was the first air strike in the area.
— Dawn correspondent Miramshah also contributed to this report.