The Pakistan Army says it has launched an attack on al Qaeda militants thought to be protecting Osama bin Laden’s deputy.
The attack follows a “surrender or die” ultimatum which expired at 7am this morning British time.
Al Qaeda’s top strategist Ayman al-Zawahri is thought to be holed up in a mud fort in South Waziristan – one of the most remote parts of a lawless tribal region on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
As dawn broke over the area today, small-arms fire was heard, after intermittent shots through the night.
“I can hear Kalashnikov (rifle) fire from the militants’ side. The troops must have moved forward,” said one resident.
Aircraft were heard during the night but they did not appear to drop bombs or fire guns or rockets.
Following the expiration of the deadline, an army spokesman told Reuters news agency: “The operation is on”.