ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani warplanes struck three militant hideouts in a Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border on Wednesday, killing 35 insurgents, the army said.
The strikes targeted areas in the North Waziristan tribal region, where the military has been conducting a major offensive since mid-June, the army said in a statement.
The strikes came a day after the Pakistani Taliban took credit for a weekend attack on a navy dockyard on the other side of the country, in the port city of Karachi.
North Waziristan has long been home to a mix of local and al-Qaida-linked foreign militants, including armed groups which carry out cross-border attacks on U.S. and other NATO troops in Afghanistan.
The army says its operation in the tribal region has so far killed over 900 militants but the area is off limits to journalists, making it impossible to confirm military claims independently.
Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in the war on terror, and local Taliban in a bid to overthrow the government and install their own harsh brand of Islamic law often target the country's security forces, killing tens of thousands of Pakistanis in the last decade.
Following the attack Saturday on the naval dockyard, Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a telephone call to The Associated Press from an undisclosed location on Tuesday that some naval officials helped them carry out the attack.
He said the Taliban launched the assault as revenge for the army operation in North Waziristan.
Navy officials only acknowledged the attack Monday night, but said nothing about whether naval officials assisted the militants. The navy said seven of the sailors were also wounded in the attack, which killed a sailor and two militants.
Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif told the parliament in Islamabad on Tuesday that some of the detained men were from the Navy. He said "some naval officials" were also involved in the attack.