Pakistani Jets Bomb Militants, 31 Dead

Published February 1, 2012 8:54AM (EST)

PARACHINAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani fighter jets bombed the hideouts of two militant commanders along the Afghan border Wednesday, killing up to 31 insurgents, government and security officials said.

One of those killed was reported to be a Pakistani Taliban leader in Orakzai region named Moin ud Din, said one security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

It was not possible to independently confirm the information because the border region is effectively off-limits to reporters. Militants have in the past disputed army accounts of casualties, and human rights groups say civilians often die in military actions.

There were air strikes in the bordering regions of Kurram and Orakzai, said government officials Wajid Khan and Ameer Gul.

The attacks followed clashes between soldiers and militants over a strategic mountaintop in Kurram that killed over 60 people in the last week.

In recent years the Pakistani military has launched a series of offensives against militants in the border regions, which are only under the nominal control of the central government. They have had some success, but large areas remain under the effective control of extremists, who use the region to plan attacks in Pakistani cities and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, gunmen attacked a Pakistani paramilitary checkpoint in the Marwarh area of southwestern Baluchistan province late Tuesday, killing six troops and setting off a gunbattle, government official Fateh Bangalzai said.

On Wednesday morning, the soldiers discovered bodies of seven unarmed men near the checkpoint. It was unclear who the seven were and who had killed them. Bangalzai said authorities were investigating. Baluchistan is home to a separatist rebel force that often attacks representatives of the Pakistani state there.


Associated Press writer Abdul Sattar contributed for this report from Quetta, Pakistan.

By Salon Staff

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