MIRANSHAH: At least 19 militants and four soldiers, including an officer of the rank of captain, were killed during a clash in the remote Shawal valley in North Waziristan Agency on Saturday.
The incident happened three days after Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif visited the Shawal valley and gave orders to the military commanders to launch the last phase of the Zarb-e-Azb operation to clear Shawal of the militants. Shawal valley is reportedly infested with militants who are expected to offer resistance to the advancing army troops.
Military officials said the security forces were conducting a ground offensive against the militants in their few remaining strongholds in Shawal near the Pak-Afghan border when the incident took place.
“The militants had gathered in the remote and mountainous Shawal valley after the security forces expelled them from other parts of North Waziristan during the Zarb-e-Azb military operation. The troops launched the ground offensive, but faced stiff resistance from the militants,” a senior security official told The News.
Pleading anonymity, he said that 19 militants were killed and a number of others were injured in the fighting in the Mangroti area.
“The troops fought well and four of them, including an officer, were killed in the fighting,” the security official said. He said the troops later secured control of Mangroti, which is considered a stronghold of the militants.
The security official said that the fighting lasted till Saturday afternoon. The martyred soldiers were identified as Captain Umair Abbasi, Havaldar Hakim Ali, Sepoy Rashid and Sepoy Hameed.
The bodies of the slain soldiers were first shifted to Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, in a military helicopter from where they were transported to Peshawar before being taken to their native areas for burial. Two of the martyred soldiers belonged to Sindh and one to Dera Ismail Khan. All were from the Frontier Force.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in Peshawar confirmed the clash between the militants and security forces and the killing of four soldiers.