Pakistani jets kill at least 10 civilians, dozens of militants
At least 10 civilians were among 40 people killed when jet fighters and gunship helicopters targeted rebel hideouts in Pakistan's tribal region near the Afghan border, security officials said Wednesday, DPA reported.
The attacks were carried out Tuesday in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency, one of the seven tribal districts, where government forces are battling Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.
"Around 40 people were killed in the airstrikes," said Major Fazl Ur Rehman, a spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps. "We don't have confirmed figures about the civilian deaths, but 10 among those killed must be civilians."
"The airstrikes destroyed 12 hideouts of the militants," Rehman said.
An intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the air raids were carried out after authorities obtained information about the presence of dozens of militants in the area who were planning attacks in neighboring Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
"Some bombs also hit nearby houses and killed women and children," he said.
The death toll could not be independently confirmed because the area was not accessible to media and aid workers.
The remote Tirah Valley is an important Taliban safe haven where various militant groups operate almost freely. Pakistan's military has targeted them occasionally with aerial attacks, some of which have been guided by poor intelligence.
Early this year, an airstrike killed dozens of civilians in the valley, prompting military chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to publicly apologize.