PESHAWAR - At least 910 militants were killed while 82 soldiers embraced martyrdom in the ongoing Zarb-e-Azb operation launched by Pakistan Army against the terrorists in North Waziristan Agency.
According to a statement issued on Wednesday by the ISPR, since the start of the Zarb-e-Azb operation on June 15 last, a total of 910 terrorists have so far been killed.
The ISPR that put the official number of 82 soldiers who embraced martyrdom, fighting terrorism said that 269 soldiers sustained injuries in the operation. It said the Zarb-e-Azb operation is progressing as per plan.
Giving the details of the 82 martyred soldiers, it said it included 42 in North Waziristan Agency, 23 in rest of Fata other than North Waziristan Agency and 17 in the remaining parts of the country, including Balochistan and Karachi.
The statement said 88-kilometer-long road, Khajuri-Mirali-Miranshah-Dattakhel and Ghariom-Jhallar Road have been cleared . Besides, the security forces have cleared major towns of Miranshah, Mirali, Datta Khel, Boya and Degan which were considered strongholds of terrorists.
The ISPR further said 27 IED factories, one rocket and ammunition factory each have been recovered and destroyed. It added huge cache of arms and ammunition, communication equipment and other logistic facilities used by the terrorists have been destroyed, uprooting their ability to attack as a coherent force.
Not only this, 2,274 intelligence-led coordinated counterterrorism operations across the country have been carried out to forestall any blowback of the operation. At least 42 terrorists have been killed and 114 hardcore terrorists apprehended in these operations, the statement said.
The ISPR said relief operation for temporarily dislocated people of North Waziristan Agency continues to help our brethren from North Waziristan with full zest and zeal
In this connection, 19,376 tons of rations have been distributed among 97,570 IDPs’ families at six relief delivery points in Bannu, DI khan and Tank,” the statement said, adding 113,209 patients, including 32,979 females, have been treated at field medical hospital established by Army medical Corps at Khalifa Gul Nawaz Hospital, Bannu.
Besides, 32,226 cattle heads have been treated while 73,338 cattle and 129,141 poultry stock vaccinated, the statement concluded.
AFP adds: The military began a long-awaited push to clear insurgent bases from North Waziristan after a bloody attack on Karachi airport.
Air strikes, artillery, mortars and ground troops have all been used to retake territory in North Waziristan which had become a haven for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters and other terror outfits.
The conflict zone is off-limits to journalists, so there is no way to independently verify the number and identity of those killed. The Taliban later gave a sharply lower figure for the number of the insurgents killed.
The latest figures represent a significant increase on an AFP tally based on regular operational updates from the military, which recorded 632 militant deaths up to August 30 and 29 soldiers.
A security official said the discrepancy had arisen because intense ground operations around Mir Ali in recent weeks have produced a high number of casualties.
The army statement gave no details of civilian casualties, but reports from residents fleeing the fighting have indicated numerous civilians have been killed.
After one set of air strikes in Shawal Valley in July, multiple accounts by residents said 37 civilians were killed, including 20 women and 10 children.
The military has said civilians were given many warnings to leave conflict areas and accused the militants of using them as “human shields”. The operation is ongoing.
The umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) later issued a statement, accusing the army of grossly exaggerating its claims and killing mostly civilians.
“The fact is that in this war only 25 to 30 of our companions have embraced martyrdom. On the other hand, during bombardment more than five dozen civilians have embraced martyrdom,” the statement signed by spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan and written in English said.
“It is worth mentioning that before the start of the operation Mujahideen had already shifted their bomb factories and training centres to safe places,” it added.
The tribal areas on the Afghan border have for years been a hideout for militants of Al-Qaeda and TTP as well as foreign fighters.
Washington pressed Islamabad for years to take action to wipe out sanctuaries in North Waziristan, which militants have used to launch attacks on Nato forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.
There have been fears that many top militants also fled, including fighters from Haqqani network which is blamed for numerous bloody attacks in Afghanistan.