Pakistani jets hit militant hideouts, killing 21

AP News
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Posted: Oct 16, 2014 8:07 AM

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani jet fighters struck five militant hideouts in a northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least 21 insurgents, the army said.

The "precise" strikes were carried out in the Tirah valley in Khyber tribal region, a military statement said.

It provided no further details and only said the strikes "killed 21 terrorists." There was no way to independently confirm the claim.

Pakistan's tribal areas are off limits to journalists.

Pakistan's air force often targets suspected militants and their hideouts in Khyber, and elsewhere in the country's northwest.

The region is believed to be a hiding place for Pakistani Taliban and foreign militants.

The latest strikes came a day after a suicide bomber targeted a meeting of anti-Taliban elders in the Khyber region, killing five people.

Since June 15, Pakistan's army has also been carrying out a major operation against Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaida in the North Waziristan tribal region, to the south of Khyber. It has killed over 1,100 militants in the region, which was once a base for local and foreign militants blamed for acts of terrorism in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban are a loose network of militant groups. Thousands of Pakistanis have died in their war aimed at overthrowing the elected government and enforcing their own harsh brand of Islamic Shariah law. North Waziristan was home to a mix of local and foreign militant groups until the military launched its operation there following a deadly militant attack on the country's busiest airport in Karachi.

The military says it has cleared 90 percent of North Waziristan during the operation, which displaced over 800,000 residents.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday visited the headquarters of the Pakistan Air Force in the capital, Islamabad.

During a meeting with the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, the prime minister praised role of the air force in the ongoing operation in North Waziristan, a military statement said.