Islamabad, June 28(IANS): Pakistani security forces, who are engaged in a major offensive in the North Waziristan tribal region, have arrested a senior Al Qaeda leader and killed 19 militants including a Taliban commander, the army said Saturday.
The ground forces used artillery and tanks to pound the hideouts of the militants and killed 19 of them over the past 24 hours, the army’s spokesman said.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told parliament last week that the offensive would continue until all militants were eliminated.”
Giving details of the latest operation, he said the terrorists’ concentrations were targeted early morning by the integrated fire of artillery, tanks and heavy weapons outside Miranshah, the headquarters of the North Waziristan Agency, with seven terrorists being killed, Xinhua reported.
Last evening Pakistan Air Force jet aircraft destroyed six confirmed terrorists’ hideouts on the outskirts of Mir Ali, a main town in the area, killing 11 terrorists, he said.
Meanwhile, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan commander of Miranshah, Commander Umer, was killed by security forces Friday night on the outskirts of Miranshah.
A prominent Al Qaeda commander was also arrested while trying to flee from the surrounded area in North Waziristan.
Initial interrogation shows him as an explosive, IED, suicide belt expert, the spokesman said. The military did not disclose his name and nationality.
Additionally, three terrorists were arrested by security forces while they were trying to cross a river near Mianwali, a main city in Punjab province. Currently, security personnel are placed at all crossing places along the Indus river to prevent the escape of the terrorists.
The military said an effective cordon around terrorists’ hideouts is in place across the North Waziristan Agency.
The military also said civilians have been evacuated from the tribal region, and in order to make sure there are no innocent civilians still left in the area, announcements have been made to urge any stranded tribals who may have stayed back for any reason, to leave.
There are reports that after the surrender of 19 terrorists so far, more terrorists may lay down their arms.
The military launched the long-awaited major operation in North Waziristan this month after the peace talks collapsed due to the Taliban’s continued attacks.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told parliament last week that the offensive would continue until all militants were eliminated.
The army spokesman said supply and distribution of rations to internally displaced persons (IDPs) is gradually improving and six relief delivery points were set up by the army in collaboration with civil administration in nearby cities of Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Tank.