At least 21 militants have been killed in fresh airstrikes and ground operations in the strategic Shawal Valley of North Waziristan Agency where the military is conducting the last phase of Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
The military claims to have gained control of strategic positions along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the snow-covered mountainous regions of North Waziristan.
Administration officials said the air raids targeted hideouts of militants while ground troops were going ahead with a cleansing operation in the area.
Chief military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa wrote on Twitter that helicopter gunships carried out the strikes, which began Monday night and continued into Tuesday.
“Operations continue as important heights and passes along the Pak-Afghan border are secured. The valley’s sanitisation [is] in progress,” he wrote on the micro-blogging website. “Ground forces continue their hunt for fleeing terrorists through chase, cordon and search operations.”
He also posted photographs of soldiers fanning out in a forested area and a ruined building engulfed in smoke.
Late last month, army chief Gen Raheel Sharif gave the nod for the last phase of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has been ongoing in North Waziristan since June 15, 2014. The offensive to clear Taliban and al Qaeda strongholds was launched following a brazen militant attack on Karachi airport.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2016.