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Pakistan continues N Waziristan air raids

Military offensive against fighters goes on, a week after Taliban attack on Karachi airport killed 29 people.

Last updated: 16 Jun 2014 13:54
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Pakistani jets have resumed air raids in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, a day after the army announced the start of a major military operation to flush fighters out of the volatile region bordering Afghanistan.

Security officials said the jets bombed two government schools in the west of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, early on Monday, killing at least 15 fighters who were sheltering in them.

Military officials told AP news agency that some of the fighters killed were foreigners.

Pakistani jets carried out raids in the same northwestern region on Sunday, with the military saying 105 people, mostly Uzbek fighters in eight hideouts were believed killed.

Al Jazeera cannot independently confirm the military's account of casualties.

The Pakistani Taliban said that those killed on Sunday were civilians and that it would avenge the deaths.

A breakdown of Pakistan's armed groups

Strikes on the northwest tribal region signify a new Pakistani military operation, where it has deployed up to 30,000 troops, artillery and helicopter gunships in a long-awaited offensive to eliminate Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters from their border stronghold.

The military operation is seen as Pakistan’s response to a deadly attack on its major airport in Karachi a week ago.

"This operation will continue till the surrender or elimination of enemy," Khawaja Asif, the Pakistani defence minister said.

The army has imposed an all-day curfew and turned off mobile phone services to undermine the fighters and restrict people's movements, leading to food shortages in some places, Reuters said.

The curfew will be relaxed in the next couple of days to allow residents to leave the area, security officials said.

Military also said that surveillance of the territory of the air raids is being carried out by own aerial surveillance platforms.

Residents flee

Expecting an escalation of violence, two-thirds of families have fled from the ethnic Pashtun region, residents told Reuters, many heading for neighbouring Afghanistan, where they have relatives.

"We have packed up everything and are ready to leave as soon as the curfew is lifted," Ethasham Khan, a resident of the regional capital of Miranshah said.

After the Karachi attack, public opinion also appears to have swung in favour of a military operation, even if military action in North Waziristan means a higher risk of revenge attacks by the Pakistani Taliban outside the tribal region.

In a separate incident, four soldiers have been killed and five injured in a road side blast in the town of Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan.

Official sources told Al Jazeera the security convoy was targeted close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, adding that they cordoned off the area and launched a search operation for suspects.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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