Pakistan army claims to expel Taliban from key stronghold

Located near Afghan border, restive Shawal Valley was considered Pakistani Taliban’s last bastion

Pakistan army claims to expel Taliban from key stronghold

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Pakistan army on Monday announced the "conclusion" of a months-long operation against local Taliban militants in the Shawal Valley near the Afghan border.

Shawal Valley, part of Pakistan’s restive North Waziristan tribal region, was considered a last stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, who since last February have been stiffly resisting the army.

Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif visited the heavily-forested valley on Monday, where he announced the formal conclusion of the operation, which involved aerial strikes, landmine blasts and fierce ground clashes.

According to an army statement, General Sharif congratulated the troops for ostensibly driving the Pakistani Taliban from its last bastion.   

"The security forces have secured over 800 square kilometers [of the Shawal Valley] since last February, inflicting heavy casualties on the terrorists," the army’s media wing said in a statement.

North Waziristan -- one of Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal regions -- has seen numerous clashes between the army and Taliban since June of 2014 amid a full-scale military onslaught that has reportedly killed nearly 5,000 suspected militants.

These figures, however, cannot be independently verified as the army has declared the region off-limits to journalists.

Over the same period, more than 500 Pakistani soldiers have also reportedly lost their lives in landmine blasts and clashes with the Taliban.

The just-concluded military operation  also served to displace some one million tribesmen from North Waziristan, nearly 30 percent of whom have since returned to their homes.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Nisan 2016, 09:14