The Pakistani military claimed it killed more than 35 “militants,” including a number of fighters from Central Asia, during a series of airstrikes today in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. An additional 30 jihadists are reported to have been killed in airstrikes in the tribal agency of Khyber. The punitive raids were launched after the Movement of the Taliban executed 23 Frontier Corps troops.
The airstrikes in North Waziristan took place in the Datta Khel, Mir Ali, and Shawal areas, where al Qaeda and a number of jihadist groups are known to operate. The targets included a compound run by a commander known as Abu Sattar; a safe house for a Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan leader known as Abdur Razzak; and “Uzbek, Turkmen and Tajik hideouts,” Dawn reported. An unnamed “Tajik commander” is said to have been killed in one of the strikes.
The Uzbeks, Turkmen, and Tajiks likely belong to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Union, the Turkistan Islamic Party, or a number of other jihadist groups that also operate in North Waziristan under the protection of so-called “good Taliban” leaders from either the HaqqanI Network of the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group. Pakistani military and intelligence officials view the Haqqanis and Bahadar as “good Taliban” as they do not advocate attacking the Pakistani state.
In Khyber, military officials claimed that “foreign fighters” are among the more than 30 killed in airstrikes in the Bara area, according to SAMAA. The Bara area of Khyber is a known safe haven for a multitude of Pakistani and Central Asia terror groups.
Pakistani officials claimed the airstrikes were retaliation for the execution of 23 Frontier Corps troops by Omar Khalid al Khurusani, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s emir for the Mohmand tribal agency. Earlier this week, Omar Khalid said the Frontier Corps troops were killed to avenge the deaths of jihadists who had been killed by Pakistani forces while in custody.
Omar Khalid’s announcement of the execution of the Pakistani troops was backed up by Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, who demanded that the execution of jihadists and dumping of their bodies be halted.
“Our fighters are being targeted, arrested and killed in fake police encounters. The government’s negotiations team should ensure to our committee that this would immediately stop,” Shahid said yesterday, according to Dawn.
Although the government is currently in peace negotiations with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, jihadists continue to launch attacks against security forces, government officials, and civilians.