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February 18, 2017

Pakistani forces pound terrorist camps in Afghanistan

Top Story

February 18, 2017

Four camps, one training compound of Jamaatul Ahrar terror group destroyed; 100 terrorists killed in countrywide operations; Afghan diplomats summoned to GHQ, handed over list of 76 terrorists operating from Afghan side; COAS calls US General John Nicholson; PM authorises security forces to eliminate enemy, hunt terrorists down inside and outside the country with full state power

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Pakistan security forces pounded the camps of Jamaatul Ahrar terrorist group across the border in Afghanistan on Friday night and destroyed four camps and a training compound, military sources said.

The strikes were conducted hours after Afghan Embassy officials were summoned to the Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, where they were handed over a list of 76 terrorists orchestrating terrorist activities in Pakistan from the Afghan soil. Pakistan has repeatedly warned the Afghan authorities to prevent the use of their soil for terror activities in Pakistan.

There has so far been no official confirmation regarding the developments from the Pakistani military or government, but informed sources told Geo News that the army targeted Jamaatul Ahrar sanctuaries across the border of Khyber and Mohmand tribal agencies. The camps were situated on the Afghan side of the porous border. The army targeted four terrorist camps in Friday’s strikes, besides destroying a training compound of Jamaatul Ahrar, the sources added.

There have been reports that several militants, including the deputy commander of Jamaatul Ahrar Adil Bacha, were killed in the strikes.

Earlier on Friday, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa held a telephonic conversation with US General John Nicholson, Commander of Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan, conveying his concerns over continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan from Afghanistan, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

“Most of the incidents in Pakistan are claimed by terrorist organisations with leadership hiding in Afghanistan,” General Bajwa told US General John Nicholson.“The COAS said that such terrorist activities and inaction against them are testing our current policy of cross-border restraint,” the ISPR said in a statement.

The US general expressed condolences on loss of precious lives in recent terrorist incidents and assured full assistance in response to General Bajwa’s concerns. The general also shared his plans to undertake special coordination at appropriate level between RSM, Afghan security forces and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the security forces have launched full-scale track down against terrorists after recent spate of terror attacks in the country and killed over a 100 terrorists as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked the security forces to eliminate the terrorists by hunting them down inside and outside the country. 

The Sindh Rangers and Police, during their separate encounters, gunned down 27 terrorists belonging to banned outfits, including Daesh, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Jamaatul Ahrar.

Spokesman for the Sindh Rangers said that in the early hours of Friday, soldiers returning from Lal Shahbaz Qalander's shrine from security duty were attacked on the Super Highway by armed terrorists. One soldier was injured in the attack.

The paramilitary force took positions and had an encounter with the terrorists. In the retaliatory firing by the Rangers, seven terrorists were killed. The Rangers also recovered sophisticated weapons from them. The encounter with the terrorists continued for 35 minutes.

The spokesman added that of the killed terrorists, three were identified while the identity of the remaining four was yet to be ascertained. The killed terrorists belonged to banned Daesh Mufti Abu Zar Burmi group. The killed terrorists were identified as Yaseen alias Chootu, who was the Naib Ameer of the group, and remained involved in target killings on religious and ethnic grounds and also led a chain of killers. Moreover, in 2012-13 he remained involved in sectarian killings. The second accused was Mohammed Arshad alias Noor Alam alias Shoaib who also remained involved in bomb blasts and sectarian killings. Another killed terrorist was identified as Hidayatullah who took training from Miranshah, and remained involved in target killings. 

While the paramilitary force was busy in gathering information about the killed terrorists, they received intelligence-based information about the presence of terrorists in the Manghopir area. Thus in the wee hours of Friday, they conducted a raid at the prescribed location.

On seeing the paramilitary force, the terrorists resorted to firing and an encounter took place that lasted for more than an hour. The Rangers, after a brief encounter, gunned down 11 terrorists and during the search of their hideout, recovered a huge cache of weapons and explosives.

The spokesman added that the killed terrorists belonged to the banned LeJ and Jamaatul Ahrar. On the other hand, District Malir police during their Friday evening shootout gunned down nine terrorists, including a bomber.

SSP Rao Anwar said that he was informed that members of a banned outfit were present inside a house situated in the Northern Bypass area. Acting on information, he along with his staff carried out a raid. On seeing the police, the terrorists opened fire which was retaliated and an encounter took place. The police after a brief encounter killed nine terrorists.

SSP Rao Anwar said that one of the killed terrorists was a bomber who was later identified as Razee and according to source report, they were planning to carry out an attack upon the Rangers headquarters. He added that they have also recovered an MP-5, which was recently snatched by the terrorists during an attack on policemen in Karachi.

The killed terrorists belonged to Jamaatul Ahrar and al-Qaeda. Further investigations are underway.

At least 25 militants were killed as the authorities intensified targeted actions against the outlaws in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata, officials said.

The authorities closed the Torkham border and other crossing points with Afghanistan and launched specific actions against the terrorists. Nine militants of the outlawed Jamaatul Ahrar group of Taliban were killed while 10 of their hideouts located in Parchao, the hilly area with Loey Shalman in Landikotal, were destroyed in Khyber Agency.

"Responding to the terrorists' activities in various places in Pakistan, we have launched attacks to target militants' sanctuaries situated near the Afghan border," an official requesting anonymity said.

He said the security forces used heavy weapons and mortar shells and hit several training centres of Omar Khalid Khorasani, the head of the Jamaatul Ahrar operating from Afghanistan. He said two soldiers Noorullah and Ameer Nawaz were wounded when terrorists attacked a Pakistani checkpost in Loey Shalman area Thursday night.

Two suspects were arrested at Bagyari checkpost in Khyber Agency when they were on the way to Peshawar in a vehicle and were shifted to a secure place for interrogation, officials said.

Another official said that they had decided to conduct military operations against various militants' hideouts near the border with Afghanistan. He said people living in Loey Shalman near Landikotal in Khyber Agency have been asked to vacate their houses to avoid collateral damage.

The security forces also repulsed an attack on the security checkpost in Ghlo China area on the boundary between Orakzai Agency and Hangu district and killed six militants in the subsequent gunbattle, official and tribal sources said.

The sources said that a group of militants attacked the security checkpost with automatic weapons in Ghlo China area early in the day. They said the security forces manning the checkpost returned the fire and forced the militants to retreat. The sources said that six militants, including two suicide bombers, were killed in the exchange of fire that lasted for some time. They said that the retreating militants left behind the bodies of their accomplices and also weapons.

The militants who were slain were stated to be affiliated with the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Daesh. The sources said that a commander of the Saeed Khan-led militant group was among the dead militants. The sources added that the security forces recovered four suicide vests, 20 kilograms of explosives, 10 hand-grenades and several Kalashnikov rifles in the operation.

The bodies of the militants were shifted to the headquarters of Orakzai Agency in Babar Mela and later buried in the Musaferan graveyard in Orakzai.

Sources in the security forces said that the militants had entered Orakzai Agency from Afghanistan some two days ago. They said the security forces cordoned off the area soon after the attack on the military checkpost and launched a search operation in parts of Orakzai Agency. However, there were no reports of any arrest in the search operation.

The sources said the security forces killed four terrorists in a clash near Marwat Canal in Frontier Region Bakkakhel in Bannu. The forces intercepted four suspected persons near Marwat Canal and directed them to stop for identification check. However, the suspects opened fire on the soldiers. The soldiers returned the fire and killed the four terrorists.

The soldiers recovered Afghan and Kuwaiti currency and weapons. The forces also recovered maps of Bakkakhel IDPs camp, Bakkakhel Police Station, the security forces' checkpost in Saidgai, and the General Headquarters from the slain militants' possession.

In Upper Dir, the security forces killed two suspected terrorists in Shingara area in Barawal tehsil bordering Afghanistan.

The security sources said that they had received information about presence of terrorists in Shingara area.

"The terrorists opened fire as soon as the forces reached the spot. Two attackers were killed in the exchange of fire," a source said, adding that the terrorists belonged to Darora and Wari and had entered Pakistan from Afghanistan.

The bodies were taken to the hospital in Timergara for post mortem. The local sources said that both militants had been missing from the area for the last four years. Also, two militants were killed when they were planting bombs on the roadside in Mamond tehsil of Bajaur Agency.

The sources said that the militants were planting bombs on the roadside in Damadola when the security forces and volunteers of the tribal lashkar opened fire on them. The militants were killed on the spot and their bodies were shifted to the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Khar for identification. The security forces defused bombs and seized other explosive devices.

Meanwhile, the security forces tightened the security arrangements in Bajaur Agency. Additional checkpoints were established at all the entry and exit points. The entry of private vehicles to the Civil Colony in Khar was banned.

The security forces gunned down two terrorists when they were planting a bomb on the roadside in lower Kurram Agency, official sources said. The security forces were informed that terrorists were planting bomb on the roadside in Shabak in Kurram Agency. The soldiers opened fire on the terrorists killing them on the spot. The soldiers defused the bomb.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked the armed forces and law enforcement agencies to eliminate the enemies of the people with full force of the state. “It is an obligation on us towards future generations and others who are facing oppression,” he said 

The Prime Minister House stated Friday evening that Nawaz has reminded, “We must hold firm, but reject fear and renounce this depravity wherever we see it with a moral rebuke we reserve only for the most heinous.”

He expressed confidence that the war will end, and it will conclude with the victory of Pakistani people, “including our positive values that bind us”.  “I direct and authorise my armed forces and law enforcement agencies to eliminate the enemy where ever they are with the full force of the state,” he stated.

The political and military leadership was given briefing at Sehwan Sharif about the benchmarks of the battle that is underway with the motive for total elimination of the terror activities on soil of Pakistan. 

Nawaz Sharif calling off his all engagements in Islamabad opted to undertake the visit of interior Sindh on Friday where the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was targeted by suicide attack and resulted in killing of about 90 innocent people and more than two hundred seriously injured a day earlier. The prime minister had whirlwind visit of the badly affected shrine and hospitals where the injured are being treated. Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also accompanied the prime minister in the visit.

The prime minister reached Sehwan Sharif, the town where the shrine is situated by a military chopper where Corps Commander Lt Gen Baig Mirza was already present. Nawaz Sharif held high level meeting in Sehwan where the overall situation was discussed and strategy was enforced that had already been drawn up. 

Highly placed sources told The News that the prime minister was furious about the recent wave of terror activities during last one week and maintained that the terrorists are working on behest of foreign agenda and their activities have no other motive but to destabilise Pakistan for stalling its rapid development.

Nawaz said that in the pursuit of peace and prosperity, every state in history has faced opposition from those who have wished to reverse them to primitive and barbaric roots. “Pakistan has been fighting a war on its identity since its inception.

For the past many years, we have been fighting the enemies from within and those abroad. We have faced dark days in our history,” he said, adding, “We have always come through with a resilience that has been an inspiration for the world. It is time for us to unite and fight against the radicals, wherever they may be inside or coming from outside and I direct and authorise the armed forces and law enforcement agencies to eliminate the enemy where ever they are with the full force of the state.”