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US, Pakistani Strikes Kill 62 Islamic Militants

  • VOA News

North Waziristan map

North Waziristan map

Pakistan's military says security forces ambushed "a large assembly of terrorists" near the border with Afghanistan, killing at least 16 of them and wounding 20 others.

A brief military statement issued Saturday says an overnight "intense battle" took place in a territory separating the Orakzai and Khyber tribal districts and that at least four solders were wounded.

Earlier, Pakistani officials said two suspected U.S. drone strikes killed at least seven Islamist fighters early Friday in the remote North Waziristan region.

Those strikes were followed by Pakistani air strikes late Friday targeting compounds of Taliban and Uzbek militants near the Afghan border with what the army called "very effective and precise aerial strikes" that killed at least 39 militants.

The attacks in North Waziristan come as Pakistan ramps up its anti-terror strategy following a December 16 Pakistani Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that killed nearly 150 people, most of them children.

The massacre of 134 children and 16 school staff prompted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to reinstate the death penalty just two days after the attack. Authorities have since hanged six “hard-core terrorists” convicted of previous terrorism charges. Plans are in place to execute hundreds more.

Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke by phone with Mr. Sharif. A U.N. statement said Mr. Ban urged the Islamabad government to stop the executions and re-impose the country's moratorium on the death penalty. The two also discussed the rule of law and the need for an independent Pakistani judiciary.

Drone strikes are largely unpopular in Pakistan where many consider them a violation of the country's sovereignty. But the U.S. insists the attacks are effective to eliminate militants in areas not accessible to the Pakistani military.

Also Friday, officials said security forces have killed an alleged facilitator of the Peshawar school massacre.

The head of the police in the Khyber tribal region said security forces, acting on intelligence information, conducted a raid late Thursday and fought a gun battle with the militant commander known as Saddam and suspected accomplices. Six alleged cohorts were wounded and arrested.

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