Islamabad, Pakistan – At least 37 people have been reported killed and 18 injured in air raids, according to military sources, against what the Pakistani military has termed “terrorist hideouts” in the Khyber tribal area.
Meanwhile, a bomb blast in the country’s south claimed the life of a police officer and three others.
The military said the raids on Thursday targeted members of armed groups involved in planning recent attacks, including the bombing of a fruit market in Islamabad on April 9 and the killing of security forces in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
The raids were launched in the Bara area early on Thursday morning, military officials told Al Jazeera. They come a day after the government and the Pakistani Taliban met in Islamabad to discuss a stuttering peace process.
The Pakistani Taliban, known by the initials TTP, announced on April 16 that it would not be extending a self-imposed 40-day ceasefire on attacks against the state and civilians, a move which prompted the interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, to say further talks without such a measure in place would be “pointless”.
A senior military official in Peshawar told the Reuters news agency that the air raids were the first phase of an offensive against rebels in the Khyber area.
“After the jets, Pakistan army ground forces also launched operations in the area,” he said.
The assault was the first aerial operation against TTP targets for two months.
Karachi bomb targets police
Meanwhile, also on Thursday, a bombing killed a police officer known for conducting operations against suspected TTP fighters in the southern port city of Karachi.
Shafiq Tanoli and three others were killed after a bomb went off close to the officer’s residence in the Old Sabzi Mandi area of the city, police officials said.
The explosion appeared to be a suicide bombing, and wounded two other people, police official Pir Mohammad Shah told the Associated Press news agency.
The dead included the officers uncle and two friends, Shah said.
While no group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, Tanoli had conducted several operations against suspected TTP fighters in the Mauripur area of the city, and had survived at least one attack on his life in the past.
Tanoli had also been closely involved in the investigation into the killing of journalist Wali Khan Babar in January 2011.
The attack against Tanoli comes as attacks against police officers in the southern port city have been rising. On January 8, a roadside bomb killed senior police official Chaudhry Aslam, also known for conducting operations against TTP suspects. On February 13, another roadside bomb targeted a police bus, killing 13 and injuring 57 others.
Al Jazeera is not able to independently verify the number of deaths from the military operation as journalists are not allowed to operate in the Khyber tribal area.