World Bulletin/News Desk
At least 27 more suspected militants were killed in renewed Pakistani army air strikes on militant hideouts and amid a clash in northwestern Pakistan near border of war-stricken Afghanistan, army officials said, just as U.S. drone strikes in the north killed 6.
The fresh air strikes by the Pakistani army are seen as retaliation to Tuesday's school siege in Peshawar city that killed over 140 people, mostly students.
A senior military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the fighter jets carried out several air strikes in the remote Tirah valley, which sits on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, killing 25 militants and injuring eight. Seven militant hideouts were also destroyed in air raids, he added.
The official claimed that the deceased included Khalifa Umar Mansoor, a senior Taliban commander who is believed to have been one of the masterminds of Peshawar mass shooting. Umar's death has yet to be confirmed.
Khyber Agency, one of the seven semi-autonomous tribal areas of Pakistan, has been a stronghold of Taliban-linked Lashkar-e-Islam militant group, led by commander Mangal Bagh, which is putting up tough resistance to security forces.
According to Pakistani intelligence agencies, the region is currently serving as a new bastion of fleeing militants from North Waziristan where a large-scale operation against Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a mother coalition of different insurgent groups in Pakistan, has been ongoing since June 15.
Two suspected militants were in a clash with police in Charsaddah district near Peshawar, the capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Ijaz Khan, a provincial police chief said.
The fresh casualties have put the militants' death toll at over 1600 -- 155 in last three days -- since June 15, when the army launched its invasion of North Waziristan and other tribal areas to eliminate the TTP and its affiliates. The figures, however, cannot be independently verified as media is not allowed to visit the operation-hit areas.
Over 100 soldiers have also been killed in clashes and landmine blasts in the ongoing operation.
The military operations have already forced 1.5 million tribesmen from restive North Waziristan, and Khyber Agency to adjacent Peshawar, Bannu, Karak, and Lakki Marwat districts.
Meanwhile, an unmanned U.S. predator fired missiles on a compound in North Waziristan, killing at least 6 suspected militants, officials said.
A senior military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Anadolu Agency that a U.S. drone fired two missiles on a compound in Datta Khel town that lies on Pakistan-Afghanistan border on Saturday morning.
This was the 18th drone strike of 2014 in Pakistan's northern tribal belt -- most of them carried out in North Waziristan.
Over 3400 people -- 70 per cent of them unarmed civilians, according to international human rights groups -- have been killed in more than 400 drone strikes since 2004. Islamabad publicly opposes the drone strikes; however, it is generally believed that it tacitly supports them.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Aralık 2014, 11:55