Posts Tagged North Waziristan
Pakistani jets and ground forces killed 59 militants in a northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border, the army said Friday, days after Taliban fighters killed 148 people most of them children in a school massacre.
The violence at a school in Pakistan’s northwest earlier this week stunned people around the country and sparked cries for retribution. In the wake of the violence the military has struck targets in the Khyber tribal region and approved the death penalty for six convicted terrorists.
The military said it had carried out air strikes and ground operations Thursday and Friday in the Khyber agency.
The military said its ground forces late Thursday killed 10 militants while jets killed another 17, including an Uzbek commander. Another 32 terrorists were killed by security forces in an ambush in Tirah valley in Khyber on Friday as they headed toward the Afghan border, the military said.
Three security forces were wounded in the ensuing shootout, it said, adding that the “fleeing terrorists left behind bodies of their accomplices.”
Khyber agency is one of two main areas in the country’s northwest where the Pakistani military has been trying to root out militants in recent months. Khyber borders Peshawar, where the school massacre happened, and militants have traditionally attacked the city only to quickly flee into the tribal region where police can’t chase them.
The other area is the North Waziristan, where the military launched a massive operation in June.
Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif late Thursday signed death warrants of six “hard core terrorists” convicted and sentenced to death by military courts, the army spokesman Gen. Asim Bajwa said in a Twitter post.
It was unclear when the military planned to hang the six men, but authorities generally move quickly once death warrants are signed. Such executions are usually carried out at prisons under the supervision of army officers and then the bodies are handed over to relatives for burial.
There was no information on the men or the crimes for which they were convicted.
The news comes after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday announced that he would lift a moratorium on executions in terrorism-related cases. The government has not yet carried out any executions.
The missiles hit a compound in Shokhel village, more than 100 kilometres southwest of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district that is known as a stronghold of Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants.
“The US drone fired two missiles targeting a militant compound and killing at least seven militants,” a senior local security official told AFP.
Another official confirmed the strike and casualties but said the identities of those killed were not yet known.
The strike came just two days after Sharif was sworn in for a historic third time and asked the United States to end its campaign of drone attacks against militants.
“We respect the sovereignty of others and they should also respect our sovereignty and independence. This campaign should come to an end,” he said after lawmakers endorsed him as premier on Wednesday.
He had also publicly criticised the drone strike that killed Taliban deputy Waliur Rehman last week, echoing long-held Pakistani complaints that the US campaign violates national sovereignty.
Waliur Rehman, the number two in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction, died along with at least five others when a drone fired two missiles on a house in North Waziristan on May 29.
Waliur Rehman, who had a $5 million US government bounty on his head, was killed after US President Barack Obama outlined new more restrictive guidelines on drone use.
Washington had accused Waliur Rehman of organising attacks against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and also wanted him in connection with a suicide attack on an American base in Afghanistan in 2009 that killed seven CIA agents.
Drone missile strikes are very unpopular in Pakistan, but Washington views them as a vital tool in the fight against Taliban and al Qaeda militants holed up in the lawless Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan.
Ties with Washington will be a key part of Nawaz Sharif’s tenure, particularly as NATO withdraws the bulk of its forces from Afghanistan by the end of next year after more than 12 years of war.
The families of Pakistani victims of US drone strikes on Thursday wrote to Nawaz Sharif urging him to stop the campaign – by shooting the unmanned aircraft down if necessary.
The Peshawar High Court on May 9 declared the CIA drone strikes targeting suspected militants to be a “war crime” and ordered Islamabad to take steps to halt them.
Victims’ families and their lawyer Mirza Shahzad Akbar have written to Sharif urging him to heed the court’s ruling, which calls on the government to take the matter up at the UN Security Council. Akbar said that if Pakistan failed to persuade the US to stop the strikes through the United Nations, “the court has very clearly ordered to shoot down the drones”.