Maintenance. We are currently updating the site. Please check back shortly

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Inform - Connect - Empower

Pakistani PM approves air strikes on militant hideouts

Source: Reuters - Thu, 20 Feb 2014 07:19 GMT
Author: Reuters
hum-war
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Email Print
Leave us a comment

(Pvs ISLAMABAD, adds detail, comment)

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Saud Mehsud

ISLAMABAD/DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan, Feb 20 (Reuters) - P akistani fighter jets bombed suspected militant hideouts in an ethnic Pashtun area on the Afghan border on Thursday, killing at least 40 people, security officials said, after attempts to engage insurgents in peace talks collapsed this week.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif authorised the air strikes, a source in his office said - a possible sign he was finally giving in to pressure from the military for tougher military action against Pakistani Taliban strongholds.

"After restraining the army for three days, the prime minister himself authorised the strikes last night," the government official said. "It was the only option to teach the Taliban a lesson."

Sharif, who came to power last year promising to find a negotiated peace with the Taliban, has been trying to engage the militants in negotiations.

But talks broke down this week when a Taliban wing operating in the Mohmand Pashtun tribal region said it had executed 23 soldiers in revenge for the killing of their fighters by the security forces.

"At least 40 militants were killed in the precision strikes in the Mir Ali area," one Pakistani intelligence official told Reuters. "Six different locations were bombed."

Another official said among the army's targets were training camps run by Uzbek and Turkmen fighters.

Earlier, security officials had said fifteen militants were killed.

The air strikes could herald a broader military offensive in North Waziristan, a region where many al Qaeda-linked militants are based.

The morning air attacks came just hours after the army said more than 100 soldiers had been killed by Taliban militants in the last five months, a rare admission of relatively heavy casualties.

In an unusually tough statement, Sharif's spokesman said in televised remarks late on Wednesday that the army was capable of crushing all enemies.

"The prime minister wants to resolve these issues without bloodshed but if the Taliban continue killing people then we will be left with no choice but to keep our citizens safe from terrorism through any means possible," spokesman Pervez Rashid said. (Additional reporting by Asim Tanveer in Multan and Jibran Ahmed in Peshawar; Editing by Maria Golovnina and Robert Birsel)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus
Most Popular
TOPICAL CONTENT
Topical content
LATEST SLIDESHOW

Latest slideshow

See allSee all
FEATURED JOBS
Featured jobs