Tuesday Feb 25, 2014

30 militants killed on North, South Waziristan air strikes

MIRANSHAH: Pakistani fighter jets and gunship helicopters bombarded hideouts of Taliban militants in the troubled North and South Waziristan Agencies on Tuesday killing at least thirty militants, Geo News reported.

"The death toll from the air strikes has risen to 30," a security official said, updating the earlier death toll of 27.

The early morning strike on hideouts in the North and South Waziristan tribal districts was the fourth in a series of air strikes by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) since February 20.

Cobra helicopters were used in the strikes, sources said.

Pakistani fighter jets have been pounding targets in the region since the government's efforts to engage Taliban insurgents in peace negotiations broke down this month.

"The militants had captured a stretch between South Waziristan and North Waziristan and had established training centers where they were also preparing suicide bombers," said one military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Fifteen were killed in the South Waziristan side of the border, while 15 were killed in North Waziristan."

The latest air strikes mainly took place in the Shawal valley and Dattakhel areas of North Waziristan where militant training facilities and compounds are said to be located.

It was impossible to verify how many civilians might have been killed or wounded in the attacks.

Earlier this month Pakistan had entered into talks with the Taliban aimed at ending their seven-year insurgency.

But the militant group has continued carrying out attacks on a near-daily basis, with dialogue suspended after the insurgents claimed last week they had executed 23 kidnapped soldiers in a northwestern tribal region. Since then the PAF has conducted a series of air strikes in the volatile tribal regions bordering Afghanistan which are considered a stronghold of TTP and foreign fighters.