PESHAWAR, Oct 4: Paramilitary forces backed by the Pakistan Army scoured and dismantled a terrorist training facility in the Northern Areas on Saturday.

Troops from the paramilitary Frontier Corps and Pakistan Army launched the operation in Tangir sub-division of Diamir district early in the morning to search the training camp.

“It was a search and dismantle operation,” ISPR spokesman Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan told Dawn.

The action follows intelligence reports that there was a terrorist training camp in the area, he said. The operation was conducted mainly by ground troops but reports said army helicopters were also used.

The camp was deserted by the time the troops arrived. “There was nobody there,” Lt-Gen Sultan said.

Locals in Tangir told Dawn by telephone that the camp that was used by Harkatul Mujahideen, a militant outfit fighting in Kashmir. It was a small facility that had been abandoned about a month or so ago.

The camp, called Bajajiano Maskar, was located in the small Tangir valley on the bank of River Indus, about 6km to the north of Karakoram Highway. Comprising three residential blocks, the camp once housed 20 to 25 trainees, they said.

The ISPR spokesman declined to name the group operating the camp. However, he said the camp was a terrorist facility that was involved in domestic terrorism, including terrorist killings, sectarian killings and blockade of the Karakoram Highway from time to time.

“The camp has no connection with Al Qaeda but the possibility of it receiving patronage from outside cannot be ruled out,” the spokesman said.

He said the troops destroyed the administrative infrastructure and other ‘logistics.’ “There were no arms or ammunition there,” he confirmed.

Our Gilgit correspondent adds: Apart from some Gilgit-based army units, that had proceeded to Tangir on Friday, some 20 truckloads of armymen were summoned from other areas to take part in the operation, sources said.

At least, four helicopters were seen hovering over the valley, assisting the troops busy in the operation on the ground, they said.

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