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July 1, 2014

Ground operation begins in NWA

Pakistan

WD
Web Desk
July 1, 2014

PESHAWAR: Following two weeks of heavy bombing and day and night artillery shelling, security forces came out of their heavily-guarded military camp in Miranshah and started the ground offensive by demolishing suspected militants hideouts on Monday.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement said 15 militants were killed in exchange of fire with the troops during house-to-house search operation in Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan.
A security official in Miranshah said it was the second time during the past one week the security forces had conducted a ground operation.Pleading anonymity, he said it was a major offensive inwhich hundreds of soldiers, backed by tanks with air cover provided by helicopter gunships, took part and demolished a number of buildings that had served as sanctuaries for the local and foreign militants in the Miranshah bazaar.
“We have details of each and every place where the terrorists used to stay and make their plans,” the military official said. However, he said the troops didn’t face any significant resistance during the daylong ground operation.
“The start has been taken from Miranshah and after clearing it and adjoining villages, the ground operation would be extended to Mir Ali and other parts of North Waziristan,” he said.Though the North Waziristan tribal Jirga has been insisting that thousands of people were still stranded in various villages of North Waziristan due to a host of reasons, military officials said the ground operation was launched after the evacuation of all the civil population.
According to the ISPR, security forces recovered underground tunnels where improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were made. It said the area was cleared following a brief gunbattle with the militants that caused injuries to three soldiers.
Tribal sources in Miranshah and its adjoining villages said before the launch of the ground operation on Monday, helicopter gunships and long-range

artillery heavily targetted the area where the troops later conducted house-to-house search operation.
“The army blew up several buildings and houses in Miranshah during the operation and thick smoke could be seen rising from distant places,” a tribesman told this correspondent on phone from Dossali.
Pleading anonymity, he said the people and militants had vacated Miranshah and its adjoining villages and shifted to Razmak, Shawal and Dattakhel areas in North Waziristan before the launch of the military operation. However, he said that many families had left behind some members to look after their homes and cattle head in the villages.
“Some of the people remained in their homes in the villages but they were ordered by the military to leave the area. They later came to Razmak and Dossali along with their cattle head. The residents of Razmak, Dossali and Garyoom would soon leave the area as they cannot do any business and lead normal life,” the tribesman added.
According to the ISPR, artillery, tanks and other heavy weapons were used in the action against militants.After the launch of “Zarb-e-Azb” military operation on June 15, the ISPR said 376 militants had been killed so far while 19 others surrendered to security forces. It said that 61 hideouts of terrorists were destroyed in the operation. The ISPR admitted that 17 soldiers had died fighting the militants.