Pakistan jets kill 60 alleged militants, relatives, officials say; witness says kids killed

By Riaz Khan, AP
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pakistani jets target militant hideouts, 60 killed

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistan army jets and helicopters targeted militant hideouts near the Afghan border, killing 60 people identified as insurgents or their family members, including children, security officials and a witness said Wednesday.

The strikes hit an area where army fire had killed 60 civilians earlier this year. Accounts of civilian casualties in army airstrikes make it harder for the military to win the support of local tribesman in the border region, something crucial to flushing out al-Qaida and Taliban militants who have found sanctuary there.

The attacks happened on Tuesday and Wednesday in different parts of the region.

There was no independent confirmation of the casualty figures because the area is too dangerous for outsiders to visit.

The raids Tuesday took place in several villages in Teerah Valley in the Khyber region and killed 45 people. One security official said some vehicles rigged with explosives had also been destroyed. He could not say how many.

He described the dead as insurgents, but also said it was possible that people living with them could also have been killed. Separately, an intelligence officer said some women and children had been killed in the attacks.

Jihad Gul, a resident who lives near one of the villages, said he had seen the bodies of at least 20 women and children.

The security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

An air attack Wednesday in the adjoining district of Orakzai killed 15 alleged militants and wounded 10 others, according to local government official Jamil Khan and a brief army statement.

In April, the Teerah Valley was hit by army airstrikes that killed about 60 civilians. The army, which initially described the victims as insurgents, ended up paying compensation to their families and its chief issued a rare public apology.

Pakistan’s army has been fighting Islamist militants in different parts of the northwest for more than two years.

Militants who fled major operations in South Waziristan and Orakzai tribal regions are believed to have set up new bases in Khyber, which is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of the main city in the region, Peshawar.


Associated Press Writer Hussain Afzal in Parachinar contributed to this report.

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