Dera Ismail Khan: At least three security personnel were killed after a raid on a Pakistan Army checkpoint in South Waziristan, security officials say, as the military presses on with an offensive in the Shawal Valley.
Pakistan began a ground offensive in the deeply forested ravines of the valley, a historical smuggling route which straddles the border between North and South Waziristan, on Friday.
Early on Tuesday morning, a group of militants attacked a checkpoint in the Pir Ghar area, adjacent to Shawal, killing at least three security personnel, security officials in the area told Reuters.
“Militants attacked with heavy weapons, including [Rocket Propelled Grenades] and machine guns. Forces replied to the attack we are checking for the militants’ casualties,” a security official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
On Monday, two security forces personnel, including a lieutenant colonel, were killed in an exchange of fire with militants in the Shawal valley, Pakistan’s military said in a statement. At least six militants were also killed in that exchange, the military said.
Both attacks were claimed by a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who the army has been battling in North Waziristan since it launched a full-scale military operation in the area in June last year.
“We will not let the army enter Shawal under any conditions,” Azam Tariq, a Taliban spokesperson, told Reuters on Tuesday, adding that dozens of Taliban fighters had been involved in the raids.
The Shawal offensive marks the latest phase of a military operation in Waziristan, which the army says has resulted in the deaths of more than 2,700 militants and the clearance of most of North Waziristan, a historical hotbed of militancy.
On Tuesday, the military said it had destroyed a militant training camp and ammunition dump in gunship helicopter strikes in the Gurbaz area of Shawal.