RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif spent the entire day on Friday with troops and tribal people in Khyber Agency.
The army chief first visited Jawaro near the Pak-Afghan border and reviewed progress of the ongoing operation, which is in its concluding phase, said a statement issued by the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR).
General Raheel commended the troops on their professional commitment and paid rich tributes to their sacrifices in restoring peace and bringing normalcy to the troubled region of Khyber Agency.
He said that terrorist strongholds in Khyber have been reduced and the operation close to the Pak-Afghan border is now in its last phase. The army chief further said that the noose has been tightened and terrorists will not be allowed to reestablish themselves.
The COAS revealed that the area in which the operation is under way was heavily infested with foreign made Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). He said after North Waziristan, terrorists in Khyber Agency were using the most rugged terrains as their strongholds.
General Raheel also paid a visit to the de-radicalisation centre in Bara where those who surrendered in the operation are being provided with vocational training and education. He also complimented the tribal brethren for their full support in ousting terrorists from Khyber and appreciated their resolve for not permitting terrorists to return to these areas.
The COAS specially paid rich tributes to the martyrs and the wounded.
He also lauded the efforts of all law-enforcement agencies in countering terrorism across Pakistan. General Raheel reiterated that all terrorists and their facilitators will be apprehended and brought to justice. He also acknowledged the support of the entire nation and said that the objective of a terror-free Pakistan will be accomplished.
Earlier today, upon his arrival at Khyber Agency, General Raheel was received by Lieutenant General Hidayatur Rehman, Corps commander 11 Corps.
At least 20 suspected terrorists killed in Khyber blitz
At least 20 suspected terrorists were killed during airstrikes in Khyber Agency on Friday, said a statement issued by ISPR.
Around 18 suspected terrorists were also wounded in the airstrikes, according to the statement.
The ISPR statement added that key militant commanders were among those killed in the blitz.
The details could not be independently verified since the access of journalists is severely restricted in the region.
The precise aerial strikes come amid the ongoing Khyber-2 operation launched by the army in the tribal region and are part of the military's stepped-up efforts since a militant attack in Dec 2014 killed 150 people, mostly children, at Peshawar's Army Public School.
The Peshawar incident came months after the army launched Zarb-i-Azb, a grand operation in the North Waziristan tribal region, following a Taliban-claimed attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.
Khyber is one of Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous regions governed by tribal laws and lies near the Afghan border. The region was known to be a stronghold of militants belonging to the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and an allied group called Lashkar-i-Islam.