23 militants killed in North Waziristan, Khyber Agency airstrikes

ISPR says a huge ammunition dump was also blown up in strikes in Khyber Agency

Nasruminallah /reuters June 28, 2015

BANNU: Twenty-three militants, including foreigners, were killed during airstrikes on Sunday in areas close to the Pakistan, Afghanistan border of Khyber and North Waziristan agencies.

“A huge ammunition dump was also blown up in strikes in Khyber Agency,” the military’s media wing, Inter Services Public Relations, said in a statement.

Two intelligence officials, who declined to be identified, as they are not authorised to speak on the record, said the latest air strikes killed the militants in the Zoinari area of North Waziristan.

"We got information that local and foreign fighters were hiding in this area," said one of the officials. "Strikes were launched and 10 militants were killed. Three hideouts were also completely destroyed."

Militants used to control all of North Waziristan, a mountainous region that includes the Shawal Valley and runs along the Afghan border but Pakistan Army has recaptured most of it in the operation launched last June.

Read:12 militants killed in air strikes near Pak-Afghan border

NATO forces had long urged Pakistan for such an offensive, saying Taliban safe havens in Pakistan were being used to attack NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.

Since last month, the military has stepped up operations in Shawal Valley, where the Taliban still operates freely.

The area is a stronghold of Khan "Sajna" Said, a leader of a Taliban faction whose name was added to a sanctions list of "specially designated global terrorists" by US authorities last year.

Read:Al Qaeda confirms US strike killed American spokesperson in Pakistan

Most phone lines to the area have been cut and military roadblocks curtail civilian movement.

The Pakistani Taliban mainly fight against the government in Islamabad and are separate from, but allied with, the Afghan Taliban that ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s before being expelled in a US-led intervention.

Both groups send fighters against Afghanistan's Western-backed government. Afghan officials have said the Pakistani army offensive has driven large numbers of fighters over the border, complicating the war in Afghanistan's east and north.