JAMRUD / BANNU:Fighter jets and helicopter gunships carried out fresh strikes against the hideouts of suspects militants in Khyber and Waziristan tribal regions on Saturday, killing 44 terrorists, some of them foreigners, the military said in a statement.
“Twenty-eight terrorists were killed in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency,” the military’s media wing, the ISPR, said without giving further details. Local sources, however, added that the warplanes and gunships bombed the bases of militants in different parts of Tirah, including Kachkol, Kandu, Gharibi and Ghakhi.
Seven hideouts were decimated in the air blitz, sources said, adding that the slain militants were affiliated with the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-e-Islam extremist group.
The airstrikes came two days after the military claimed a ‘huge success’ in Operation Khyber-2 which was launched in the Tirah Valley and Bara areas of Khyber Agency in mid-October, last year. The offensive was initiated following reports that some militants had fled Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan Agency to seek refuge in the strategic Tirah Valley which shares borders with the tribal agencies of Khurram and Orakzai and also with the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar.
“Marking a huge success in Operation Khyber-2, security forces have captured the terrorists’ strongholds of Sandapal, Tordara, Kundwala and Mehrban Killay,” the ISPR said in a statement on Thursday. Twenty-seven terrorists were killed, while five soldiers embraced martyrdom in the fighting, it added.
Separately, fighter jets targeted hideouts of terrorists in an area ahead of Datta Khel in North Waziristan. The ISPR claimed that “16 terrorists, mostly foreigners, were killed in the precision air strikes.” It did not give further details.
A security official said warplanes started strafing bases of terrorists in Suikhel Mandi and Mana areas of Shawal tehsil near the Pak-Afghan border before dawn on Saturday. He added that two hideouts and three vehicles of terrorists were destroyed in the air raids.
The military had mounted Operation Zarb-e-Azb against homegrown terrorists and their foreign cohorts in North Waziristan in mid-June, last year. Most parts of the agency have been purged of terrorists, but some pockets of resistance still remain in the region.
Meanwhile, an army officer who embraced martyrdom while fighting militants was laid to rest with full military honour on Saturday. Captain Qasim Zia was critically injured on April 29 during a major clearance operation in Tirah Valley and was airlifted to the CMH Peshawar where he succumbed to his injuries.
The funeral prayers for Captain Qasim Zia were offered at the Army graveyard near Racecourse Ground in Rawalpindi. Army chief General Raheel Sharif, naval chief Admiral Muhammad Zaka Ullah, other military officials and relatives of the shaheed attended the funeral.
The army chief paid rich tributes to Captain Qasim for his supreme sacrifice. Gen Raheel and Captain Qasim’s father reiterated their resolve to continue the fight till the elimination of the last terrorist from our soil at any cost