Pakistan air strikes against militants in tribal areas

File photo: Pakistani Taliban patrol in their stronghold of Shawal in Pakistani tribal region of South Waziristan, 5 August 2012 The Pakistani Taliban have strongholds in North and South Waziristan

Pakistan's military have launched air strikes against suspected militant hideouts in the north-west, killing at least 30 people, officials say.

Fighter jets bombed targets in the North Waziristan tribal area on Tuesday, officials said.

Fighting was also reported in South Waziristan.

Talks between Pakistani government and Taliban militant negotiators broke down last week, after a Taliban-linked group said they killed 23 soldiers.

"The militants had captured a stretch between South Waziristan and North Waziristan and had established training centres where they were also preparing suicide bombers," a military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was quoted by Reuters as saying.


On the face of it, the government targets appear to be selective. They are mostly going after anti-Pakistan elements within the Taliban. Despite appearances, a huge faction of the militants, perhaps the largest and strongest, currently favours peace talks with Pakistan.

The government appears to have decided to proceed with the strikes even as it keeps the offer of talks open. This is in line with demands that it should negotiate from a position of strength. But the Taliban's recent rejection of the Pakistani constitution left little room for resuming meaningful dialogue in any way.

The strikes may also be linked to Pakistan demonstrating that it deserves the goodwill of Western nations by clearing Waziristan, as Nato troops withdraw from neighbouring Afghanistan.

The latest attacks primarily took place in the Shawal valley and Datta Khel areas of North Waziristan, Reuters news agency added.

There has been no independent confirmation of the number of casualties.

The air strikes came a day after senior Pakistani Taliban commander Asmatullah Shaheen was reportedly shot dead in North Waziristan.

Shaheen was briefly the TTP (Pakistani Taliban) interim leader after its chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed last year during a US drone strike.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for Shaheen's death.

Last week, government negotiators suspended a planned meeting with Taliban negotiators after militants based in the Mohmand tribal area said they had killed 23 soldiers who had been abducted and held since 2010.

Those killings, and other violence in the past weeks, also triggered air strikes on suspected militant hideouts last Thursday in which the government said 38 militants were killed.

Pakistani jets also carried out strikes on suspected militant hideouts in North Waziristan last month, following a wave of attacks against security forces.


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