PESHAWAR: Pakistan’s military said Monday it had killed 10 militants and destroyed an explosives cache in fresh air strikes as part of a major offensive against the Taliban in the northwest.
Pakistan began the long-awaited push to clear insurgent bases from North Waziristan district, on the Afghan border, in June after a bloody attack on Karachi airport finally sank faltering peace talks with the rebels.
“Army aviation gunship helicopters struck in area ahead of Boya Degan in North Waziristan. In a precise strike on a terrorist hideout, gunship helicopters destroyed one explosive dump and five vehicles and killed 10 terrorists,” the military said in a statement.
The conflict zone is off-limits to journalists, so there is no way to independently verify the number and identity of those killed.
Air strikes, artillery, mortars and ground troops have all been used to retake territory in North Waziristan, which had become a haven for fighters with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant outfits.
The military has said the major towns of Miranshah and Mir Ali had now been cleared of insurgents, along with a 90-kilometre (55-mile) road through North Waziristan.
Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border have for years been a hideout for Islamist militants of all stripes — including Al-Qaeda and the homegrown TTP as well as foreign fighters such as Uzbeks and Uighurs.
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.
The latest attacks came a week after the army announced it had killed more than 900 militants and lost 82 soldiers since the start of the operation.
After one set of air strikes in the Shawal Valley in July, multiple accounts by residents said 37 civilians were killed, including 20 women and 10 children.