60 militants killed in Pakistan’s tribal area operation

By NNN-Xinhua,

Islamabad : Pakistani security forces killed at least 60 militants in the last 24 hours in the military operation in the country’s tribal area of South Waziristan, the military said Sunday in a press release.

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Five soldiers were also killed and 11 others were injured in the operation coded as Rah-e-Nijat, path of salvation, according to the press release.

Six 12.7-mm anti-aircraft gun positions of the militants have been destroyed in different areas and one 12.7-mm gun position has been captured in Wuzi Sar area, it said, adding that a lot of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or mines have been recovered.

A number of vehicles under use of the militants have been destroyed. Due to security forces advance, it said, militants are vacating their posts or areas leaving behind arms and ammunition.

The security forces launched the operation at 03:00 local time Saturday morning (2100GMT Friday) in the South Waziristan tribal agency bordering Afghanistan.

The army said that about 30,000 soldiers are in place to take on an estimated 10,000 hard-core Taliban militants in the lawless area. About 500 commandos arrived in the region on Friday.

The military said that the operation is launched in six towns of the area and is likely to continue for six to eight weeks, but no final deadline can be given.

More than 80,000 civilians have fled South Waziristan in anticipation of the offensive and the United Nations refugee agency said more people are leaving this week.

The army warned that up to 250,000 civilians are expected to dislocate in South Waziristan.

In KABUL, the Afghan government has appreciated Pakistan for launching operation against Taliban and al-Qaida militants in South Waziristan’s tribal area bordering Afghanistan, a local newspaper reported Sunday.

Quoting Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi, the Daily Outlook said that Afghanistan welcomed launching ground offensive against militants in South Waziristan.

Azimi, according to the newspaper, noted that Waziristan operation was an example of cooperation by Pakistan in war on terror.