North Waziristan and Khyber, Pakistan
North Waziristan and Khyber, Pakistan

Pakistan's military said Saturday that airstrikes had killed 20 suspected militants in a troubled northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border, as part of a major offensive in that area.

A statement said the strikes killed insurgents in the Datta Khel area in North Waziristan. The information could not be independently verified because the region is off-limits to journalists.

Pakistan's army began a major campaign against the Taliban and other militant groups in the North Waziristan tribal area one year ago. It said the offensive had killed about 2,800 militants and had left nearly 350 soldiers dead.

A spokesman, Major General Asim Bajwa, said troops had cleared militant strongholds, communication infrastructure and sanctuaries in the tribal belt, especially in the North Waziristan and Khyber tribal districts. 

He said the offensive was now focusing on the last few pockets close to the Afghan border, noting the militants were being denied the ability to re-establish bases there.

The spokesman added that thousands of suspected terrorists had been detained elsewhere in Pakistan based on intelligence information gathered during the military activity under way in the northwestern border region.