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ISLAMABAD: At least 14 suspected militants were killed and their sanctuaries destroyed as military planes bombed the Shawal area of North Waziristan tribal region, the military’s media wing stated on Saturday.

According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), fourteen "terrorists" were killed in precise aerial strikes in North Waziristan's Shawal valley.

The military planes reportedly pounded militant hideouts in Shawal, during which infrastructure, including ammunition depots, managed by "terrorists" was destroyed.

The area is off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to independently verify the number and identity of the dead.

Know more: Ground offensive in Shawal; Zarb-i-Azb enters final phase

The final phase of Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan is currently under way with the army having launched a ground offensive in Shawal last week. Shawal is one of the last strongholds of militants in the region.

The terrorists, except for those who have fled to Afghanistan, are said to be holed up in Shawal. One of the reasons the fleeing militants chose Shawal as their refuge was a perception that Shawal was inaccessible.

Shawal is also considered to be an Al Qaeda sanctuary and a stronghold of Gul Bahadur, a warlord once considered pro-government.

Shawal has also been the focus of US drone attacks this year with multiple strikes hitting targets in the valley in which dozens of suspected militants were killed.

The air strikes in this region have been going on for the past few weeks in which scores of suspected militants have been killed, according to official claims. However, these claims could not be verified from independent sources.

There are reports that air strikes have triggered displacement of civilians from areas adjacent to Afghanistan.