Pakistani aircraft pound militants in northwest
The Associated Press
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Air force jets and helicopter gunships struck militant hideouts in tribal areas near the Afghan border on Tuesday, killing nearly 25 insurgents, Pakistani military and intelligence officials said.
The strikes targeted areas in North and South Waziristan, the two officials said, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to talk to the media on record.
There is no way to confirm the claim independently. The lawless region is off limits to journalists.
Tens of thousands of Pakistanis have died over the last decade in the Taliban's war against the state. The militants aim to enforce their harsh brand of Islamic Shariah.
The Waziristan tribal region is home to a mix of local and foreign al-Qaida linked militants. Militants who fight against the American and its allied NATO troops across border in Afghanistan also operate there.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif long has favored peace talks over military action to end the bloodshed in the northwest, but he is also under pressure from critics to retaliate for any Taliban violence. Critics also say the militants have also used the peace talks to strengthen and regroup their ranks, and call for military operations to disrupt the insurgents' use of their northwestern bases to stage attacks elsewhere in the country.
Local media reported that Sharif's Cabinet was scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss options for operations in the tribal region.
One of the two Pakistani officials claimed that the latest air strikes were specifically targeting compounds where the militants train their recruits and store explosives and ammunition.
Pakistan has regularly launched strikes against Taliban targets after recent peace talks broke over the killings of 23 soldiers by the militants.
Several of Sharif's ministers have recently said that the negotiation was still an option, but the Taliban have to acknowledge the country's constitution as supreme law. The militants have rejected the constitution.