[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Pakistani jets pound 'fighter hideouts'

Officials say 18 killed in latest strikes since peace talks between the Taliban and government broke down.

Last updated: 23 Feb 2014 11:41
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Taliban and government negotiators Sami ul-Haq (R) and Irfan Siddiqui (L) met before talks ended recently [Reuters]

Pakistani fighter jets have attacked suspected hideouts of fighters in tribal areas on the Afghanistan border, killing at least 18 people, officials said, the third in a series of air strikes since last week.

Sunday's air strikes were the latest since peace negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban broke down last week, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif authorised the army to launch raids against fighters in the volatile region.

"Fighter jets pounded training facilities of the terrorists in Tirah Valley early on Sunday," the Reuters news agency quoted one military official as saying.

He said the destroyed facilities were used to train suicide bombers and make explosives.

There were no immediate reports of civilian casualties.

Despite the violence, both sides insist they are still open for negotiations.

But last week, the Taliban told the government there was no chance of peace in the country unless Pakistan changed its political and legal system and officially embraced Islamic law.

This year has been marked by a surge in violence across the country and Sharif is under intense pressure from hawks in the army to mount a tougher military response against the group.

Speculation has been growing in past weeks that the army might be preparing for a big ground and air offensive against those fighters holed up in the North Waziristan region, but so far raids have been limited to short aerial operations.

On Saturday, at least nine people were killed in helicopter gunship raids in the Hangu district, while on Thursday, at least 15 people died when fighter jets bombed the Mir Ali area of the tribal belt straddling the Afghan border.

270

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.