Pakistani military launches more airstrikes in the northwest
The Pakistani military continued to launch airstrikes against the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan over the weekend. Today, Air Force fighters carried out airstrikes against IED factories and arms and ammunition caches in the Tirah Valley, a known safe haven for al Qaeda and Taliban forces in the contested tribal agency of Khyber. Military officials told Dawn that 35 "militants" were killed and 15 more were wounded.
Yesterday, Pakistani Army attack helicopters struck "insurgent hideouts" in the Thall area of the district of Hangu. Nine "militants" were reported killed in the attack, according to Dawn. In addition to the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Haqqani Network is known to operate in Thall; the US killed Maulvi Ahmed Jan, a top deputy in the Haqqani Network, and two other senior commanders in a drone strike in Thall in November 2013.
The weekend's strikes in Khyber and Hangu followed military airstrikes in North Waziristan and Khyber on Feb. 20. Pakistani military officials claimed that 65 Taliban and allied jihadists, including Uzbeks, Turkmen and Tajiks, were among those killed. [See LWJ report, Pakistani Air Force strikes at 'militants' in North Waziristan, Khyber.]
The Pakistani military began launching the punitive airstrikes after the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan executed 23 captured Frontier Corps troops. The Taliban justified the murders by claiming that the military and police are executing captive jihadists and dumping their bodies.
The Pakistani government and the Taliban have been conducting peace negotiations even as both sides continue to attack each other. Jihadists killed 12 people in an IED attack in Kohat today.