ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan’s military said Wednesday it killed 40 insurgents and destroyed five of their hideouts in fresh air attacks as part of a major offensive against the Taleban in the northwest.
Pakistan began the long-awaited push to clear the bases from North Waziristan district, on the Afghan border, in June after a bloody attack on Karachi airport finally sank faltering peace talks with the rebels.
A military statement said that “in precise aerial strikes” five hideouts and ammunition dumps were destroyed and forty insurgents including foreigners were killed in the villages of Nawe Kili and Zaram Asar, north of Dattakhel in North Waziristan.
The conflict zone is off-limits to journalists, so there is no way to independently verify the number and identity of those killed.
Air strikes, artillery, mortars and ground troops have all been used to retake territory in North Waziristan, which had become a haven for fighters with the Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant outfits.
The semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Afghan border have for years been a hideout for militants of all stripes – including al-Qaeda and the homegrown TTP as well as foreign fighters such as Uzbeks and Uighurs.
Washington pressed Islamabad for years to take action to wipe out sanctuaries in North Waziristan, which militants have used to launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.