Pakistan

Army launches ground offensive in Miranshah; 15 militants killed

MIRANSHAH: The security forces have begun ground operation in Miramshah, a town of North Waziristan Agency, ARY News reported.

Director general Inter-Services Public Relations, the public affairs wing of army, announced in a statement that ground offensive had started in Miranshah.

The DG ISPR said at least 15 terrorists had been killed in the ground offensive since it’s launched. A security personnel was also injured while combating the terrorists.

Forces have besieged the Mir Ali area with artillery tanks to capture militants.

Ground troops have taken their positions in the town and begun door-to-door search operation in the administrative headquarters of the NWA.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which began on June 15, is underway in NWA in which 374 militants had been killed so far.

Reuters adds: The Pakistani army said it launched a ground offensive on Monday in a northwestern city considered a key Taliban stronghold after two weeks of aerial bombing in the region.

A military statement said soldiers had found underground tunnels and bomb-making factories in Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan.

“After the evacuation of all the civil population, a ground operation commenced in and around Miranshah early morning today,” it said. “A house to house search of Miranshah town is being carried out by infantry troops and special service group.”

Pakistan’s allies, especially the United States, have urged the government for years to eliminate Taliban strongholds in North Waziristan, a remote and mountainous region that borders Afghanistan.

The military launched its air operation on June 15, after months of peace talks between the government and the militants had made little progress. The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been eager to strike a peace deal with the militants.

But during the sporadic talks, the Taliban launched several attacks, including an assault on Karachi airport that left 34 people dead.

The army then ordered the entire civilian population of North Waziristan to evacuate and more than 450,000 people left their homes.

Since the air operation began, 376 militants have been killed and 19 have surrendered, the military said. It said many of those killed were ethnic Uzbeks or Chinese Uighurs.

Seventeen soldiers had been killed.

The extent of civilian casualties is unclear. North Waziristan has been completely sealed and there is no way to verify the military’s death tolls.

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