ISLAMABAD - A senior officer died fighting militants in North Waziristan on Monday as Pakistan’s military reiterated its resolve to eliminate all the terrorists at all costs.

Lieutenant Colonel Faisal Malik and a soldier martyred in an exchange of fire between troops and militants in the Shawal valley, where the army last week began a ground offensive. Six militants were also killed in the skirmish, the media wing of military said on Monday.

The death of Lt-Col Faisal is the first major causality since Pakistan Army launched ground offensive in Shawal last Thursday in final push to purge the area of terrorists, as part of Zarb-e-Azb military offensive in North Waziristan and adjacent areas.

After 14 months of intense fight, this operation is now in final phase as most of the area has been cleared of insurgents. “We have moved into the last stage of the operation. The ground action in Shawal has commenced,” ISPR Director General Maj Gen Asim Bajwa told a media organization.

The chiefs of army and air force met on Monday at military headquarters in Rawalpindi and decided to enhance their coordination in the final phase of the operation. The air force has played a key role in exterminating militant hideouts in the hideous hilly terrain.

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman had a meeting at military headquarters in Rawalpindi and discussed progress of Shawal operation, an ISPR statement said.

The army chief on this occasion said the armed forces will eradicate terrorists even from the remotest pockets in the country at all cost. The air chief, who is himself leading the air campaign against the militants, assured General Raheel of continued air support to the ground troops.

Commander UK Land Forces Lieutenant General James Rupert Everard also called on Army Chief General Raheel in Rawalpindi on Monday and they discussed matters of mutual interest, including bilateral training exchanges and sharing of experiences. The UK commander appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for counter terrorism on this occasion.

Pakistan has been battling a insurgency for over a decade following the late 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan. The military launched operation Zarb-i-Azb on June 15 following a brazen militant attack on Karachi’s international airport and failure of peace talks between the government and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) negotiators.

The death of a high-ranking officer comes just a day after militants launched a cross-border rocket attack on a checkpost in Khyber tribal area, killing four Pakistani soldiers and wounding four others.

Pakistan‘s foreign office summoned Afghan ambassador Janan Mosazai on Sunday evening and lodged a strong protest over the shelling from his country.