Pakistani helicopters pound militants' hideouts: report
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
Islamabad, Oct 1, IRNA
Pakistani military and paramilitary troops continued their operation for a third day Friday in the country's tribal region with military helicopters bombing militants' hideouts, reports and correspondents in the area said.
The operation was launched in North Waziristan tribal region on Wednesday on a tipoff regarding the presence of militants in the Khatai Kalee area, some 7km away from Miran Shah, the headquarters of North Waziristan.
According to official sources, security forces have cordoned off the hideouts of militants and the two sides exchanged fire.
TV channels have reported that a security official was killed and several injured on Friday.
The injured soldiers were flown to hospitals in helicopters.
There was no official confirmation of the casualty report.
Local correspondents reported civilian casualties as a result of helicopter shelling. They said that the security forces and suspected militants traded heavy fire overnight and on Friday.
A majority of the shops remained closed in Miran Shah and in the neighboring major city of Mir Ali due to fear.
Witnesses in Miran Shah said that militants fired rockets on government buildings.
A tribal jirga or council met in Miransah on Friday and the elders called for a halt to military operation.
But a representative of the local administration told the tribal council that the operation could not be stopped. The representative also informed the jirga that some 19 soldiers and one paramilitary troop was missing and asked the elders to help search for them.
A member of the National Assembly from North Waziristan, Maulana Nek Zaman, has asked the authorities to stop firing, offering help to restore peace.
Nek Zaman says there is no foreign militant hiding in the area, saying the tribal elders have already announced a penalty of five million rupees if any tribesman sheltered any foreigner.
A former Pakistani security official in the tribal region, Brigadier (retired) Mehmood Shah, asked the government to be careful while conducting the operation in North Waziristan, it (operation) has not yet yielded any results.
He said the tribal elders do not have much control over the people in North Waziristan which are more conservative and ethnically united that those in South Waziristan.
Pakistani security in North Waziristan also said personnel of the paramilitary Frontier Corps arrested a nephew of former Afghan Mujahideen commander and ex-Taliban minister Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and shifted him to Miranshah.
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