Lahore - Pakistan Army aircraft swung into action and pounded hideouts in North Waziristan, killing 40 terrorists, hours after Punjab home minister was killed in a suicide attack on Sunday.

Forty terrorists were killed and several injured in bombardment by fighter jets in Shawal area Sunday afternoon, ISPR said . Several other militants were injured in the aerial operation, it said.

The army has been waging an offensive against local and foreign militants in tribal area since June last year. The military says more than 2,800 militants have been killed since the launch of the latest offensive.

Gen Raheel, who visited the region last month, said the operation code-named “Zarb-e-Azb” is almost in its final stage. Security officials say that over 90 percent areas have been cleared of the militants. They say that the fleeing militants are hiding in the rugged mountains to avoid airstrikes.

The military spokesman, Maj Gen Asim Bajwa, says that the forces have already completed the first phase of the ground offensive in Shawal area and the second is being planned to take control of the few pockets.

The military has taken complete control of the main towns – Miranshah and Mir Ali – and has also started repatriation to the displaced persons to areas where the security forces have established writ.

Nearly one million people were displaced since the operation had been launched. The repatriation of the Temporary Displaced Persons is likely to be completed in one year, officials say.

The conflict zone is remote and off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to verify the army’s claims - including the number and identity of those killed.

On July 14, 14 terrorists, including top commanders, were killed during airstrikes in Alwara area of North Waziristan. Further, last month, as many as 23 militants including foreigners were killed during airstrikes in areas close to the Pakistan, Afghanistan border of Khyber and North Waziristan agencies.

Militants used to control all of North Waziristan, a mountainous region that includes the Shawal Valley and runs along the Afghan border but Pakistan Army had recaptured most of it in the operation launched last June.