News / Asia

Over 900 Militants Killed in Pakistan Offensive

FILE - Pakistan army launches operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ in North Waziristan.
FILE - Pakistan army launches operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ in North Waziristan.
Ayaz Gul

Pakistan's military says it has killed more than 900 militants and lost 82 soldiers since June, when it launched a major counter-insurgency offensive in a volatile tribal region near the Afghan border.

A military statement said Wednesday it has eliminated terrorist bases from major towns of North Waziristan, including its administrative center, Miranshah. Half of the soldier deaths are said to have occurred in the anti-militancy offensive while the rest in retaliatory militant attacks in elsewhere in Pakistan.

Said Nazir, a former Pakistani army brigadier, told VOA Deewa Radio Wednesday the situation in North Waziristan has changed dramatically, with up to 80 percent of the tribal region cleared of Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants. He said "terrorists on the ground have either been killed, or they have fled or gone underground.”  

Army officials say they have also destroyed some 27 bomb making factories and seized weapons and communication equipment.

The ground and air offensive has forced some 800,000 people to flee the area and take refuge in temporary shelters in northwestern Pakistani cities.

The military says relief operations for the displaced population are also progressing well. It says authorities have also conducted more than 2,200 intelligence-led operations across the country since June, killing 42 militants and capturing 114 others.

The Waziristan territory has served as a major sanctuary and training ground for Pakistani and Afghan insurgents responsible for terrorist attacks on both sides of the mostly porous border called the Durand Line.

Pakistan is engaged in a prolonged war against insurgent groups blamed for killing thousands of people and undermining economic development.  

In recent weeks, the nuclear-armed nation has been in the grip of political instability as thousands of demonstrators camping out in the center of the capital Islamabad for nearly three weeks are demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down over alleged election fraud and corruption.  

The embattled Pakistani leader rejects the demand as unconstitutional and the parliament has endorsed his stance.

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