RAWALPINDI, March 5: ISPR Director General Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan said on Sunday that militants continued to pour in from Afghanistan into Waziristan.

Briefing newsmen on the situation in Miramshah, he said that it was not possible to ascertain the number of foreign militants in the area because it was not a question of simple arithmetic. “More militants might have come from Afghanistan as we have a porous border,” he said.

The ISPR chief said deployment of adequate forces to prevent infiltration was not there in Afghanistan. He said he hoped things would improve when the Afghan National Army was fully on ground.

A militant den in Saidgai was struck on March 2, killing about 35 foreign militants and 10 local facilitators, he said, adding that those killed included a Chechen named Asad, who was probably the amir in the area.

Maj-Gen Sultan said that after the action, reports were received that militants had got together and were preparing to retaliate. Without giving details, he said the militants hurled different kind of threats on local elders challenging the writ of the government, which was not acceptable.

The militants moved in small groups and occupied some government buildings and damaged the phone exchange in Miramshah. They installed weapons on the occupied buildings and carried out attacks by rockets, heavy and small arms on military camps and the Frontier Corps fort in the administrative headquarters of the North Waziristan Agency, when a jirga was in progress for resolving the issue.

They also fired on other government buildings. Rockets were fired from three different directions, he said.

The ISPR chief said that an FC convoy was attacked by militants in Zarmelana area of Mirali tehsil.

Gen Sultan said the government exercised restraint, but the armed forces had to act when the writ of the government was challenged.

He, however, said the operation was highly targeted and precise and only those places were attacked from where shots had been fired.

He confirmed that compounds of two local clerics, Maulvi Abdul Khaliq and Maulana Sadiq Noor, were targeted. “Both of them were local facilitators and supposed to be local ring leaders,” he said. However, he said that was not sure if the two clerics had been killed.

He said some 46 militants were killed in Miramshah and Mirali and security forces lost five personnel in Miramshah and 10 sustained injuries.

Answering a question about casualty figures, he said the number of those killed may be higher, as bodies had not been counted by security forces.

He said the figures given by him were based on information received from some sources.

Asked why had security forces failed to overcome militants in North Waziristan, he said the situation was the same in Wana in 2004, but now it was different.

He said a three-pronged strategy had been adopted to resolve the issue. Doors have not been closed to find a solution to the problem by political means, while militancy was being crushed.

The ISPR director-general said that developmental projects had been initiated in the North Waziristan Agency.

He said an agency council was creating an alternative political set-up, something short of the local government system.

Replying to a question, he said people were moving to safe places, but expressed his inability to give figures.

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