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Thursday Feb 20, 2014

35 militants killed in PAF air strikes in tribal areas

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani jets and AH-1 Cobra gunships of Army Aviation bombed militant hideouts in a northwestern tribal district late Wednesday night, killing at least 35 militants.

The mastermind behind the 13 February attack on a police bus in Karachi and foreign militant commanders were among those killed.

According to sources, Pakistani jets conducted six strikes on suspected militant hideouts in the tribal areas as part of surgical strikes which they said should not be taken as military operation.

"There are confirmed reports of 35 militants including foreigners killed in these air strikes," a senior security official told, adding that the attacks focused on the town of Mir Ali and surrounding areas of North Waziristan.

Sources said the first strike killed commander Abdul Sattar when his compound was pounded by the jets followed by a series of strikes on Uzbek, Turkmen, Tajik and Taliban hideouts.

The compounds of TTP commander Jihadyar and Abdul Razzak were also destroyed when PAF jets bombarded and killed 15 militants.

"Airstrikes were carried out to target militant hideouts with precision. A huge cache of arms and ammunition have also been destroyed," the official said.

The sixth strike was conducted in Bara Tehsil of Khyber Agency in which the hideouts of terrorists involved in the attacks on Peshawar Cinemas and Major Jahanzeb were targeted. A bomb making factory and two suicide bombers were killed in the strikes.

The strikes were carried out after military leaders took the civilian government into confidence citing potential threats to the people of Pakistan from terrorists holed up in their safe havens in the country’s tribal belt.

Moreover, the attacks were aimed at protecting people of Pakistan as the militants were making plans to carry out terrorist attacks.

They added that if the government decided to launch an operation, the PAF warplanes will attack the militants in the first phase and other steps would be taken shortly after the weather conditions improve in the mountainous region.

Sources told Geo News the recent attacks were carried out on the basis of credible intelligence information and there was no fear of collateral damage.

On Wednesday, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said they were ready to observe a ceasefire to allow the resumption of peace talks, provided Pakistani security forces stopped killing and arresting them.

Peace talks between the Taliban and the government, announced on January 29, stalled this week due to a recent surge in insurgent attacks and a claim by a Taliban faction on Sunday that it had killed 23 kidnapped soldiers.

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