50 killed as Pakistan jets, US drones attack militants in tribal areas

Military officials deny any link between two different attacks in Shawal Valley, North Waziristan

PESHAWAR – The Pakistan Army said its jets killed 35 suspected militants on Wednesday as part of an anti-Taliban offensive hours after US drones attacked another area nearby and killed up to 20 people.

On Wednesday, Pakistani jets killed 35 suspected militants in the Shawal valley, military officials said. The jets targeted members of the Taliban and included Uzbeks, Chechens and Arab fighters, who had fled to the remote Shawal region from the military's offensive launched last month.

“These terrorists were earlier evicted from (the towns of) Mirali and Miranshah and they took refuge in the forests of the Shawal valley where jets have been targeting their positions,” an official said. There was no independent confirmation of the casualties.

Hours earlier, US drone aircraft attacked militants in Datta Khel, a town in North Waziristan region near the border. Resident Malik Wakil Khan, said 18 bodies had been recovered from the rubble of a compound. Pakistani security officials gave tolls of from 15 to 20 killed.

Pakistani military officials said there was no connection between their air strikes in the Shawal Valley and the US attack in North Waziristan. Pakistan publicly condemns the US drones strikes saying they often kill civilians and are a violation of sovereignty. But some officials, including a former president, have said the military has secretly approved them in the past.

Drone strikes resumed in June after a hiatus of six months, during which the government and the Taliban had been involved in desultory peace talks. Within days of the resumption of US drone strikes, Pakistan announced a military offensive designed to push the Taliban out of North Waziristan.

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Aaj Kal