Pakistan’s military on Monday claimed to have killed a commander of a "terrorist group" involved in the murder of four women aid workers in February.
Safiullah, a commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed in a security operation in the North Waziristan district near the Afghan border, the Pakistani army said in a statement.
He was behind the fatal attacks on four women working for an NGO in February this year and engineers of the Frontier Works Organization, a military engineering unit, in November 2020, according to the army.
He was also involved in planning attacks on security forces using improvised explosive devices, as well as cases of extortion and kidnapping for ransom, it added.
Weapons and ammunition were seized during the operation, the army said.
The Pakistani military claimed to have killed at least five "terrorists" in South Waziristan on Sept. 15, with seven soldiers also losing their lives in the operation.
North and South Waziristan districts – once dubbed the heartland of militancy in Pakistan – are among the seven former semi-autonomous tribal regions where the army has conducted a series of operations since 2014 to eliminate the TTP.
The areas, including North and South Waziristan, were given the status of districts and merged with the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in 2018.
More than 5,000 suspected militants and over 700 soldiers have been killed in aerial strikes, clashes, and land mine blasts over the past seven years. The figures, however, cannot be independently verified as media access to the former tribal areas is restricted.
The successive operations have pushed the TTP towards neighboring Afghanistan, and Islamabad claims the "terrorist network" has now set up bases across the border to attack Pakistani security forces.
The assertions, however, were persistently rejected by the government of Afghanistan’s former President Ashraf Ghani.
The military operations have also displaced over a million people, but the Pakistani government claims 95% of them have returned to their homes./agencies