Pakistani forces launch ground offensive in North Waziristan

Islamabad : Pakistani security forces, backed by artillery and tanks, Monday started a ground offensive against the militants in North Waziristan tribal region after two weeks of airstrikes, the military said.

“After the evacuation of all civil population, ground operation commenced in and around Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan early morning today,” army spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said.

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Giving details of the ground offensive, the military said a house to house search of Miranshah town is being carried out by infantry troops and special service group, Xinhua reported.

“A total of 15 terrorists have been killed in the ground offensive so far. Troops have recovered underground tunnels inside the cleared area. Three soldiers have been injured in exchange of fire,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Meanwhile, integrated firing of artillery, tanks and other heavy weapons is being carried out on terrorists concentrations in Mir Ali, a major city in the region, and other areas, he said, adding that “cordon is in place at other areas housing terrorists”.

Mir Ali is considered to be the biggest hideout of local and foreign militants.

The army spokesman said since the start of operation Zarb-e-Azb June 15, 376 terrorists have been killed while 19 have surrendered to the security forces.

The forces have also destroyed 61 terrorist hideouts in the operation during the last 15 days. A total of 17 soldiers have been killed since the start of the operation, the spokesman said.