North Waziristan: Pak troops in battle over key town
Pakistani infantry troops and commandos backed by artillery, gunships and jets are fighting militants to secure control of the important town of Mirali in North Waziristan, the army said on Tuesday. Army spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa told media that ground operation for Mirali was launched yesterday and was still continuing.
He said seven militants and three soldiers were killed in the latest gun battle in Fatehkhel area of the town. Bajwa said the offensive will continue till dens of militants were ‘completely eliminated’.
The military spokesman said that 447 militants have been killed in the month-long operation in North Waziristan tribal region in the northwest. Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched on 15 June after a string of deadly attacks by militants. ‘We have destroyed 88 hideouts so far and cleared 80 per cent area of Miranshah,’ he said. Bajwa also said that 26 soldiers were also killed so far in the operation and due to roadside bombings. In Mirali, a militant commander Matiullah was killed while 11 militants surrendered. Bajwa said the forces have clear instructions to establish the writ of the government and smash the militants.
Mirali is the second major town, the army has targeted after capturing the main city of Miranshah, the nerve centre of the Pakistani Taliban. Federal Minister for State and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch also addressed the media with Bajwa. Baloch said government was fully alive to the problem of displaced people and doing everything to help them. According to Fata Disaster Management Authority, the number of displaced people has crossed 980,000.