36 die in Pakistan army raids on militants

December 20, 2013 - 9:56:30 am
MIRANSHAH: Pakistani troops yesterday mounted helicopter and mortar attacks on militants in the lawless northwest, where officials said 33 insurgents and three civilians were killed.

The violence in North Waziristan tribal district came a day after a suicide bombing at a military checkpoint killed five soldiers and wounded 34.

Ansarul Mujahideen, a little-known militant group linked to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s suicide attack.

A senior military official said 23 militants were killed overnight in fighting with security forces in North Waziristan, a known hotbed of the TTP and Al-Qaeda-linked militants. Ten more militants, mostly Uzbeks, were killed in a search operation in Mirali town yesterday..

Forces launched the operation following an intelligence tip-off that terrorists were busy preparing vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, the military said in a statement.

Clashes erupted after the insurgents attacked a convoy of forces returning after rescuing soldiers wounded in Wednesday’s bombing, a military official said.

The death toll could not be verified independently because of an ongoing search operation and curfew in the area. The area is also off-limits to foreign journalists and aid groups. Helicopters attacked compounds in the morning while troops fired mortars at intervals throughout the day at suspected militant hideouts. An official said the cordon and search operation was going on in the town of Mirali and surrounding areas.

Local resident Mohabbat Khan said the forces demolished a few compounds in Mirali where they suspected the presence of rebels.

He added that the landline telephone service had been suspended in the area. Earlier, local security officials said six of the suspected militants had been killed during raids on two hotels. Separately, shells fired by Pakistani security forces hit a house in Moski village and killed a woman and her two daughters, the local official said.

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