Pakistan: Fighter jets kill 15 suspected militants
Fighter jets pounded militant hide-outs in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing 15 suspected insurgents as part of the military's campaign to rout Taliban fighters from a mountainous area near the Afghan border, a government official said, AP reported.
The Pakistani military launched the ongoing offensive in the Orakzai tribal region in mid-March to flush out militants who last year fled an army offensive in nearby South Waziristan. Persistent artillery and aircraft attacks have killed hundreds of suspected militants over the past two months.
The 15 who were killed Sunday were holed up in the villages of Dabori, Gojar and Kamer Mela in Orakzai, said Samiullah Khan, a senior government administrator in Orakzai.
It was impossible to independently confirm the casualties and their identities because the region is remote and dangerous and media access restricted.
Thousands of people have fled the offensive in the area and many have moved in with relatives in nearby districts.
Elsewhere in Pakistan's tribal region Sunday, militants who kidnapped 60 people at gunpoint the day before released 40 of their hostages, said local administrator Rasheed Khan.
Another 10 people told the local government they managed to escape the militants, who ambushed the group in Kurram while they were headed to the northwestern city of Peshawar, said Khan.
The hostages released by the militants were mostly women, children and poor men, said Khan. The kidnappers kept the wealthier men so they could demand ransom from their families, he said.
"Now the militants only have 10 people in their custody, and efforts are under way to recover them," said Khan.