BANNU, Pakistan: Pakistan’s military yesterday bombed six militant boltholes in a lawless tribal district, killing at least 28 insurgents, officials said. The airstrikes targeted Shawal village in the troubled North Waziristan region, where militants fleeing a military offensive in other parts of the district had taken refuge.
“At least 28 local and foreign terrorists were killed in today’s airstrikes and their six hideouts were destroyed,” a senior military official said.
Local security officials confirmed the account, but it was not possible to independently verify the casualties as the offensive is ongoing and media are banned from the area. Pakistani jets and artillery began hitting rebel targets in North Waziristan in mid-June to try to regain full control of the district and ground forces moved in on June 30.
The assault by Pakistan’s military was launched after a dramatic attack by militants on Karachi airport which killed dozens of people and marked the end of a faltering peace process with the Pakistani Taliban. More than 400 militants and 25 soldiers have been killed in the assault so far, according to the military.
There have been fears that many top militants also fled, including fighters from the feared Haqqani network which is blamed for numerous bloody attacks in Afghanistan. More than 800,000 people have been forced to flee from North Waziristan by the assault, with most ending up in the nearby town of Bannu.