Pakistan’s military says fresh fighting in a volatile northwestern border region has left at least 34 militants and three soldiers dead.
Fighter planes bombed suspected hideouts Sunday morning in the Dattakhel area of North Waziristan Agency, a semi-autonomous tribal territory near the Afghan border. The army's media wing says at least 27 militants, including "important commanders and foreigners" were killed in the action.
The airstrikes followed overnight clashes in Dattakhel that left three soldiers and seven militants dead. Officials said four personnel were also wounded in the exchange of fire.
On Friday, the army reported airstrikes killing at least 30 fighters in the area adjacent to the Afghan border.
The military launched the Waziristan offensive, called Zarb-e-Azb, in June and says it has so far cleared “90 percent territory” of suspected terrorists. The operation area was later extended to nearby Khyber Agency, another tribal district on the Afghan border, to kill or capture militants fleeing from North Waziristan.
Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Asim Saleem Bajwa told VOA Deewa in Washington Friday that more than 1,200 militants in North Waziristan and Khyber have been killed since operation Zarb-e-Azb began in June. Some 200 Pakistani soldiers have been killed during the anti-terrorism drive, which Bajwa said would continue until the militants are eliminated.
State-run media Sunday quoted Operation Commander Major-General Zafarullah Khan as saying his troops have seized a large number of bomb-making facilities, huge caches of weapons and ammunition, tunnels and militant-run detention centers.
Afghan and U.S. officials have long blamed militants operating from North Waziristan for fueling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, and the region remained a major irritant in bilateral ties. However, American commanders now acknowledge the Pakistani operations have undermined the ability of insurgents to plot cross-border raids.
The Waziristan operation has uprooted around one million people now living in temporary shelters in Pakistani cities. Afghan and U.N. officials say thousands have also fled to border areas of Afghanistan.