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Friday, February 19, 2010

Pakistan kills 30 militants in airstrike

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani jet fighters attacked a hideout of the al Qaeda-backed Islamist militants in their South Waziristan bastion on Saturday, killing 30, the military said.

The strike was carried out in Shawal, a major mountainous sanctuary for the militants near the Afghan border.

"The hideout in Shawal was targeted after we were tipped-off that terrorists are hiding in the mountains," a military spokesman said.

Pakistani security forces launched a major offensive in South Waziristan in October last year and military says it has captured most of the militant bases in the rugged region.

Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun tribal areas, notably South and neighboring North Waziristan, are seen as global hub of militants, including senior al Qaeda and Taliban figures. Western officials say they believe that several Taliban leaders are also living in Pakistani cities and towns.

A son of the leader of Haqqani group, a major Taliban faction attacking Western forces in Afghanistan, was killed in a missile strike by a U.S. drone in North Waziristan on Thursday.

The killing of the son of veteran Afghan guerrilla commander Jalaluddin Haqqani came days after the arrest of the Afghan Taliban's top military strategist, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in a joint Pakistani-U.S. operation in the city of Karachi.

Taliban militants, who want to topple the government and tightly control society with their radical interpretation of Islamic rule, have retaliated the military offensive in their strongholds with suicide and bomb attacks across the country that have killed hundreds of people.

One policeman was killed and three wounded in a suicide attack in the northwestern town of Balakot on Saturday morning. Police gunned down another would-be bomber in the nearby town of Mansehra as he tried to force his way into a police station.


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