ISLAMABAD: At least 17 suspected militants were killed and their hideouts destroyed when military planes carried out airstrikes targeting terrorist infrastructure near the Pak-Afghan border in North Waziristan, the military’s media wing said on Wednesday.
The Inter-Services Public Relations further said that 14 more suspected militants were killed earlier in the day in Khyber Agency, taking the total death toll from Wednesday’s air strikes to 31.
The conflict zone of North Waziristan is off-limits to journalists making it difficult to verify the army’s claims, including the number and identity of those killed.
Earlier this week, an attempted suicide attack on the Political Agent office in Khyber Agency’s Jamrud area left four people – including two Khasadar Levies men – dead and 56 others injured.
Since the beginning of Operation Zarb-i-Azb in June 2014, militants have fled to other tribal regions, including Khyber and its Tirah Valley and Shawal in North Waziristan, all of which border Afghanistan.
In June this year, on the eve of the operation’s first anniversary, the army said it had eliminated 2,763 terrorists during the year. There has, however, been no explanation as to how this precise figure about militant casualties has been collected because a large number of them are said to have been killed in strikes by Pakistan Air Force jets.
At that time, officials had said another 218 terrorist had been killed in intelligence-based operations (IBOs) conducted in other parts of the country to prevent the feared backlash of Zarb-i-Azb. The IBOs are flaunted by the military as a major success story.
But, this has come at the cost of 347 troops and displacement of over a million people.