Pak's all-out offensive against Taliban kills 177 militants

Pak's all-out offensive against Taliban kills 177 militants

The Pakistan army today launched an all-out offensive using jets and tanks in the restive North Waziristan, killing 177 Taliban fighters including foreigners, while six soldiers were killed in an IED blast, the first military casualties in the operation.

"Air force jets targeted six hideouts of the militants in Shawal area. In these precise strikes 27 terrorists were killed. There is no civil population in the area," military spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said.

The military said they shot dead seven militants trying to flee Mir Ali, a major town in North Waziristan. Another three were killed by soldiers when they were planting roadside bombs near Miranshah.

140 terrorists were killed in yesterday's precision strikes in Degan-Boya, said Bajwa. Most of those killed were Uzbek militants fighting along with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) rebels.

Pakistan army launched the operation 'Zarb-e-Azb,' which means "Strike of the Prophet's Sword," in retaliation to the deadly terror attack on the country's biggest airport in Karachi last week that killed nearly 40 people, including 10 Uzbek fighters.

"Many East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) terrorists and their affiliates have also been killed in the strikes. It was a massive blow to the terrorists and one of their main communication centres has been dismantled," Bajwa said.

Bajwa said three soldiers were injured last night in exchange of fire with terrorists around Mir Ali.

"No operation in civil populated areas has been started so far. North Waziristan Agency has been isolated by deploying troops along its border with neighbouring agencies and FATA regions to block any move of terrorists in and out of the Agency," he said.

The spokesman said security has been beefed up all along Pak-Afghan border to nab terrorists attempting to flee the area.

The Afghan National Army and Afghan Border Police have also been asked to seal the border on their side. They have also been asked to eliminate Pakistan Taliban terrorists and their sanctuaries in Kunar, Nuristan and other areas of Afghanistan.

Pakistan has increased security in all major cities and towns and at sensitive installations across the country.

Earlier today, the TTP warned all international organisations and individuals to leave Pakistan or face violence as it was in a "state of war".

"All international agencies, airlines and investors should immediately suspend all commercial ties with Pakistan and leave the country as we are in a state of war. Otherwise these foreign institutions or individuals will be responsible for any harm coming to them," TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement.

The operation was long overdue, creating friction between the US and Pakistan. The US wanted Pakistan to flush out militants from North Waziristan which they use to launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan resisted the pressure, saying its forces were thinly spread.

Pakistan, however, now has said it will not differentiate between "good" and "bad Taliban" and will hit them regardless of their "hue and colour."

It shows the Haqqani network, involved in several attacks including the one on the Indian embassy in Kabul, will also be targeted.

North Waziristan was the only tribal region out of the seven where formal operations were not launched previously.

Security forces have already flushed out militants from Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Kurram, Orakzai and South Waziristan tribal regions, also called agencies.

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