40 terrorists killed in North Waziristan
Security forces on Sunday carried out aerial strikes in Shawal Valley that killed 40 terrorists, said a statement by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) - the army's media wing.
The statement said "security forces in ongoing Operation Zarb-i-Azb carried out precise aerial strikes killing 40 terrorists. Strikes were carried out in Shawal Valley." The area is offlimits to journalists, making it difficult to independently verify the number and identity of the dead. The army says it is conducting the final phase of Operation Zarb-i-Azb to flush out Taliban terrorists from their remaining strongholds along the border with Afghanistan.
In June a senior military official had told Dawn during a background briefing on the eve of the first anniversary of the commencement of Zarb-i-Azb that "preliminary preparations for the final push have started, which will begin next month."
A large number of militants fleeing the operation in other parts of North Waziristan are believed to have taken refuge in Shawal Valley, which is considered to be an Al Qaeda sanctuary and a stronghold of Gul Bahadur, a warlord once considered pro-government.
Shawal has also been the focus of US drone attacks this year with multiple strikes hitting targets in the valley in which dozens of suspected militants were killed.