ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: Pakistan Air Force fighter jets bombed suspected terrorist hideouts in the tribal belt on the Afghan border on Thursday, killing at least 40 people, security officials said.
“At least 40 terrorists were killed in the precision strikes in the Mir Ali area,” one intelligence official told Reuters. “Six different locations were bombed.”
Another official said among the army’s targets were training camps run by Uzbek and Turkmen fighters. Earlier, security officials had said 15 terrorists were killed.
The first raid confirmed by security officials came early Thursday when jets bombed several locations including a compound in the town of Mir Ali and surrounding parts of North Waziristan.
“There are confirmed reports of 15 terrorists including foreigners killed in these airstrikes,” a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity. A second strike targeted terrorists hiding in the Khyber Agency who are suspected of bombing a cinema in Peshawar last week and killing an army major on Tuesday, a second security official said. “Air strikes were carried out to target terrorist hideouts with precision,” a security official said about the first raids in North Waziristan.
“A huge cache of arms and ammunition has also been destroyed.”
Another security official said the strikes were “in retaliation for recent Taliban attacks”. As well as the execution of the kidnapped soldiers and other killings, the insurgents claimed a car bomb attack on a police bus in Karachi on February 13 in which 12 officers died.
A third security official in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, said jet fighters began pounding targets around 12:30 am, with the attack continuing for more than an hour.
Residents in the area said the compound caught fire after the attack and many local people were moving to safer areas. The second strike in Khyber also targeted militants and destroyed “prepared explosives and IEDs”, said a security source who did not give a death toll.
Another security official told Daily Times that 16 Uzbek terrorists were among those killed in North Waziristan strikes Thursday night. He said seven terrorists, including three suicide bombers and a senior Taliban commander, had been killed in the Khyber Agency attacks.
The morning air attacks came just hours after the army said more than 100 soldiers had been killed by Taliban in the last five months. A total of 93 people have been killed since the reconciliation effort was launched at the end of January, including the kidnapped soldiers, according to an AFP tally.
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