LANDI KOTAL: Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif has said that all terrorists and their facilitators, abettors and financiers will soon be apprehended and brought to justice.

During a visit to the front positions of security forces in Tirah valley on Friday, he said terrorists’ strongholds in the agency had been reduced and now the fight was in progress in the remaining few pockets, close to the Pakistan-Afghan border. The noose, he added, had been tightened around terrorists and they would not be allowed to regroup.

The army chief said the area where the operation was being carried out was heavily infested with IEDs, mostly of foreign make. After the North Waziristan Agency, terrorists in Khyber Agency are also using the most rugged terrain as their strongholds.

Gen Raheel Sharif spent the entire day with troops and met tribal elders before visiting Jawaro, an area near the Afghan border, to review the progress of operation in its concluding phase.

He praised the troops for their professional commitment and sacrifices rendered to restore peace and normality in the troubled Khyber Agency.

On his arrival in the agency, the army chief was received by Corps Commander 11 Corps Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman. He also visited a de-radicalisation centre in Bara, where tribesmen who surrendered during the Operation Khyber are getting education and vocational training.

The army chief praised tribal people for their support to the campaign to cleanse the agency of terrorists and for their resolve not to allow terrorists to return to the area. He paid rich tributes to troops and tribal people who sacrificed their lives and those who were wounded.

AIR STRIKES: Mean­while, at least 20 suspected militants were killed and 18 others injured in air strikes on Friday.

The Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement that Air Force planes pounded militant hideouts in different parts of Tirah valley in the morning, killing at least 20 militants. It claimed that some important militant commanders and foreigners were among the dead.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2015