Pakistani forces launch northern air assault
Sunday 15 June 2014
Pakistan’s army launched a long-expected military operation in the troubled North Waziristan region today, a week after the deadly insurgent attack on Karachi airport.
The Taliban and ethnic Uzbek fighters in North Waziristan – home to some of Pakistan’s most feared militants and al-Qa’ida commanders – have both claimed responsibility for last Sunday’s airport attack.
The all-night assault all but destroyed prospects of peace talks with the militants, who are fighting to topple the Pakistani government and impose a strict Sharia-based theocracy in the nuclear-armed nation.
“Our valiant armed forces have been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and colour, along with their sanctuaries,” the army said in a statement.
“With the support of the entire nation, and in co-ordination with other state institutions and law enforcement agencies, these enemies of the state will be denied space anywhere across the country.”
It was not immediately clear where in North Waziristan the operation was taking place nor what kind of military equipment was being used.
The army has resorted to periodic air strikes against militant positions but has not been involved on the ground.
Earlier, fighter jets pounded militant hideouts in the region, killing at least 80 insurgents.
The army said ethnic Uzbeks accounted for most of those killed in the latest air assault.
It was not immediately known whether there were any civilian casualties. Journalists’ movements are restricted in the ethnic Pashtun region where the army has imposed a curfew.
“Fighter jets targeted militant hideouts in the village of Dagan near the Pakistani-Afghan border,” said one source in the regional capital of Miranshah.
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