Pakistan: 24 militants killed in air and artillery strikes

Other News Materials 20 November 2008 16:33 (UTC +04:00)

At least 24 Islamic militants, including al-Qaeda-linked Uzbek fighters, were killed as Pakistani jets and artillery pounded their hideouts in the restive north-western tribal district of Bajaur, an intelligence official said Thursday.

The shelling that started late Wednesday and continued Thursday in four areas of the district, which borders Afghanistan, also destroyed half a dozen bunkers and an ammunition depot belonging to the militants, the Pakistani official said, reported dpa.

"According to the preliminary reports, two dozens miscreants were killed," he said. "Around a dozen of them are Uzbeks."

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the Uzbeks were believed to have come from Afghanistan to fight Pakistani security forces.

Islamabad launched a major offensive in Bajaur in early August to clear the district of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters launching crossborder attacks on US-led international forces in the neighbouring Afghan province of Kunar.

A military official said last month that 1,500 militants and 74 troops had been killed in the operation, during which the rebels had offered tenacious resistance.

But the security action has also killed an unknown number of civilians and left around 250,000 displaced.