Pakistan

Air strikes and ground fire kill 24 militants

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan military said Tuesday it had killed at least 24 militants in air strikes and ground fighting in northwestern tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, as part of ongoing offensives in the region.

Air strikes took place in the restive North Waziristan tribal district, where the army launched a major operation in June targeting Taliban and Haqqani network militants.

Ground troops meanwhile traded fire with militants in Khyber agency, where Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam fighters are based.

“In early morning precise aerial strikes in North Waziristan Agency today 17 terrorists were killed including some foreigners,” a senior security official told AFP.

Local intelligence officials confirmed the air strikes and said that those took place near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.

“There are five Uzbek and two Haqqani network militants among those who have been killed in air strikes,” an intelligence official told AFP.

Separately in Khyber’s Tirah valley, a stronghold of Taliban militants, seven militants were killed during a gunfight which erupted after up to 60 militants stormed a security forces check post.

“Seven terrorists were killed in exchange of fire with security forces in Tirah in Khyber Agency. Reportedly about 50-60 terrorists raided a check post in Tirah,” a second security official told AFP.

It was not possible to verify the identity or number of casualties as media are currently banned from the area.

Rights groups say the military often exaggerates the number of killed and civilians are often killed too.

The North Waziristan operation began in mid-June, when jets and artillery began targeting rebel strongholds before ground forces moved in.

The army says it has killed more than 1,100 militants and lost more than 100 soldiers since the start of the operation.

An AFP tally based on regular updates from the military puts the militant death toll at more than 1,500, with 125 soldiers killed. – AFP

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