Pakistani jets carried out strikes in the country’s restive northwest against militant groups including the feared Haqqani network and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, officials said on Friday, with one saying at least 25 insurgents had been killed.
The strikes targeted Maizer and Sher Ali villages in the Shawal valley of troubled North Waziristan tribal district, where the military has been carrying out a major offensive against extremist groups since mid-2014.
“At least 25 insurgents have been killed and several of their hideouts have been destroyed along with vehicles full of explosives,” a security official said.
Five of those killed were members of the Haqqani network, 10 were Uzbek and Chechen militants, and 10 were from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), he added.
“Some of the hideouts targeted were jointly used by Haqqanis and foreign militants,” the official said.
The term “foreign militants” is frequently used by Pakistani officials to refers to Uzbeks and Chechens who are often aligned with the Haqqani network, which is accused of sending fighters and suicide bombers to target US and NATO troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.
A second security official confirmed the air strikes and casualties, but said that exact number of those killed was not yet clear.
North Waziristan is one of the seven semi-autonomous tribal districts that border Afghanistan. It has been a hub for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants since the early 2000s.
The Pakistani military says it has killed more than 3,600 insurgents since it launched a renewed operation against militant groups in 2014. It says 358 soldiers have also lost their lives.
The conflict zone is remote and off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to verify the army’s claims, including the number and identity of those killed.