Pakistan jets kill 30 Taliban-ally militants, including spokesman: sources

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 25, 2015 1:19 AM

By Saud Mehsud

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani jet fighters killed 30 militants allied to the Taliban in a missile attack in the mountainous northwestern Khyber region on Wednesday, including the group's spokesman, intelligence officials said.

The air force has been pounding positions in the Tirah Valley for days and the military says it has killed scores. At least seven soldiers have also been killed.

The 30 killed in Wednesday's attack in the Sipah district were from the Lashkar-e-Islam, which announced an alliance with the Taliban earlier this month, the intelligence officials said.

The casualties included group spokesman Salahuddin Ayubi, the officials said.

The group was not immediately available for comment.

A U.S. drone strike killed 11 Pakistani Taliban militants in northeastern Afghanistan, including six or seven senior commanders, intelligence officials said on Wednesday, hours after a strike killed at least nine militants in the same area.

The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban share a similar jihadist ideology but operate as separate entities, with the Pakistani militants focused on toppling the state and establishing strict Islamic rule.

No one tracks drone strikes in Afghanistan - many of them take place in remote regions and are not reported - but Taliban commanders say that fighters there have been increasingly targeted since late last year.

The strikes come amid warming relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, traditionally hostile neighbors who each accuse the other of harboring insurgents to act as proxy forces.

Relations improved after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was elected last year. Pakistan says it is supporting potential peace talks between the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban.

(Reporting by Saud Mehsud; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Michael Perry)