Colonel, soldier mar­tyred, six ter­ror­ists killed in Shawal

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

At least two se­cu­rity per­son­nel, in­clud­ing a lieu­tenant colonel were killed in a clash with mil­i­tants in Shawal area of North Waziris­tan, mil­i­tary's media wing re­ported on Mon­day.

The In­ter-Ser­vices Public Re­la­tions (ISPR) said that six mil­i­tants were also killed in the clash. The re­gion is re­mote and off-lim­its to jour­nal­ists, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to ver­ify the num­ber and iden­tity of those killed.

The fi­nal phase of Zarb-iAzb op­er­a­tion in North Waziris­tan got un­der way on Thurs­day as troops launched a ground of­fen­sive in Shawal Val­ley, one of the last strongholds of mil­i­tants in the re­gion. 'We have moved into the last stage of the op­er­a­tion. "The ground ac­tion in Shawal has com­menced," mil­i­tary spokesman Maj Gen Asim Ba­jwa said.

Shawal Val­ley and a pocket to its north­west are the re­main­ing ar­eas that need to be cleared. The ter­ror­ists, ex­cept for those who have fled to Afghanistan, are said holed up in Shawal.

One of the rea­sons the flee­ing mil­i­tants chose Shawal as their refuge was a per­cep­tion that Shawal was in­ac­ces­si­ble. "The mil­i­tants have been be­sieged there for weeks now," the ISPR chief said.

The area is con­sid­ered to be a strong­hold of Gul Ba­hadur, a war­lord once con­sid­ered to be pro-gov­ern­ment, and an Al Qaeda sanc­tu­ary. Pres­ence of Haqqani net­work mil­i­tants was also re­ported from the val­ley when a US drone strike on June 6 killed nine Haqqani­men there. Shawal has been the fo­cus of US drone at­tacks this year.

Shawal Val­ley, which borders South Waziris­tan on one side and Afghanistan on the other, has the tough­est ter­rain in the tribal agency, with treach­er­ous moun­tains as well as forests.

It is said that the Shawal of­fen­sive could be the tough­est part of the cam­paign. "We are ex­pect­ing op­po­si­tion and are fully pre­pared for it," Gen Ba­jwa said.

to be

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