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Roundup: Pakistani army kills 1858 militants in Waziristan's armed offensive

by Misbah Saba Malik

ISLAMABAD, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Monday marks the completion of six months of Pakistani military's offensive "Operation Zarb-e-Azb " in the country's northwest tribal area of North Waziristan, that has so far killed 1,858 militants and injured many others, the army said.

The troops, backed by fighter jets, have destroyed 905 hideouts of suspected militants in various areas of North Waziristan Agency, one of the seven semi-autonomous tribal regions at Pakistan- Afghanistan border, army sources said Monday.

The military lost its 188 personnel including officials in the "Operation Zarb-e-Azb," an Urdu name for Islamic prophet Muhammad' s sword.

The Army has cleared 90 percent area of the militants and recovered huge quantity of arms and ammunition which militants buried before fleecing the area as a result of the massive military operation against them.

The operation was started in mid-June when a deadly militant attack at Jinnah Airport Karachi that killed 28 people including attackers officially ended three-month-long peace negotiations between the government and Taliban.

Upon the beginning of operation on June 15, Inter Services Public Relations, the mouthpiece of Pakistani army issued a statement that read, "using North Waziristan as a base, these terrorists had waged a war against the state of Pakistan and had been disrupting our national life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property. They had also paralyzed life within the agency and had perpetually terrorized the entire peace loving and patriotic local population. "

Prior to the operation, North Waziristan was believed to be the hub of local and foreign militants from where they masterminded major terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

Most of the foreign militants who had fled the U.S.-led NATO military operations in Afghanistan had also sneaked into North Waziristan through Pakistan-Afghanistan porous border and had been operating there for years.

Pakistani terrorists also moved to North Waziristan after the government intensified military operations against them in South Waziristan and Swat areas.

Several arrested militants from various parts of the country revealed to army and police that they received training from North Waziristan.

The operation shattered Taliban network in the area, resulting in less and less terrorist attacks in the country with every coming day.

The operation created internal rifts in the major militants group in the country Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and some media reports said that it split in to at least four groups.

Many small militant groups surrendered and showed support to Pakistan army, during the operation.

In an interesting move, a major militant group in the country's east Punjab province announced they would quit militancy and vow to spend its resources in preaching Islam.

The operation was well received at both national and international level.

Pakistani public showed full support to the army and appreciated its move at micro blogging websites, including Facebook and Twitter.

All political parties in the country backed army in launching the operation.

The United States, its allies and Afghanistan government, who had been asking Pakistan for launching an armed offensive against Taliban which they believed were involved in carrying out attacks at U.S.-led NATO forces and Afghan Army in Afghanistan, supported the operation and offered assistance.

The operation lead to displacement of over 1.5 million people from the area to IDPs camps in neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

In a meeting chaired by the Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif earlier on Friday, the issue of return of IDPs came under discussion.

The army chief underlined the need, for preparation and integration of efforts with Federal and Provincial governments, for safe and dignified return of all the displaced persons to their homes on priority.

Apart from the "Operation Zarb-e-Azb," the army launched another operation "Khyber-1" in the restive tribal area of Khyber Agency in October for flushing out the insurgents involved in carrying out attacks at Pakistani Army and public.

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