[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Pakistan air raids kill scores
Military air attacks targeting fighters kill at least 45 people in the country's northwest.
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2010 11:38 GMT
Lashkar-e-Islam armed group carried out several attacks against Nato in Khyber region [GALLO/GETTY]

A Pakistani air raids targeting fighters believed to have been preparing for imminent suicide attacks has killed between 40 to 45 people in a northwestern the country.

"Security forces today carried out a successful operation against militants in the Tirah valley of Khyber Agency," a senior Pakistani security official told AFP news agency on Tuesday.

"Militant hideouts, a training centre, an illegal FM radio station and eight vehicles prepared for suicide attack were destroyed in air strikes," he added.

"The air strikes were carried out after intelligence information that militants were preparing to launch suicide attacks in Peshawar and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province during the next week."

Government sources say that the armed men belonged to the Lashkar-e-Islam group and included fighters who fled last year's offensive by the Pakistani military in  the northwestern Swat valley.

'Civilian victims'

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder said that, according reports from the area, the military has confirmed that the attacks involved aircrafts and some helicopter gunships of the military.

A local government official said that civilians including women and children had also been hit.

"Many civilians, including women and children, have been killed in air strikes," the official told AFP, asking not to be named.

Hayder said that "it is not yet clear whether all the targets are militants or whether they may be civilians or tribals as well."

"This is an area... where in April earlier this year, up to 50 tribals were killed. [The incident] was later investigated [and] the Pakistani military chief apologised when it was found that those were loyalists of the government".

Lashkar-e-Islam, which means Army of Islam, a grass roots Islamic group with ties to the Taliban, has claimed several attacks, including ones on Nato supply vehicles travelling through Khyber region.

Khyber is on the main Nato land supply route through Pakistan into Afghanistan, where almost 150,000 foreign forces are battling Taliban fighters, now in its ninth year.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
join our mailing list