Pakistan bombs suspected militant hideouts

Pakistani fighter jets bombed suspected militant hideouts on Oct. 12 in a tribal region where the military had previously declared victory over the Taliban, killing 13 alleged extremists the day after the end of a deadly siege of the army's headquarters.

CA Online and wire services

2009-10-14

KHAR, Pakistan — Pakistani fighter jets bombed suspected militant hideouts on Oct. 12 in a tribal region where the military had previously declared victory over the Taliban, killing 13 alleged extremists the day after the end of a deadly siege of the army's headquarters.

A series of attacks over the past week shows that the Taliban have rebounded and appear determined to shake the nation's resolve, as military plans are underway for an offensive in South Waziristan, the insurgents' main stronghold along the Afghan border, an area that has never been fully under the government's control.

The latest airstrikes took place in Bajur, a separate segment of the lawless northwestern tribal belt where Pakistan waged an intense six-month offensive that wound down in February.

"This was a heavy spell of bombing," said local government official Tahir Khan, who put the death toll at 13. Nine other alleged militants were wounded, he said.

Also in Bajur, a remote-controlled bomb went off in front of the political administration office in the main city of Khar, wounding a passerby. In addition, militants were suspected of abducting ten tribal elders after they attended a meeting aimed at forming a citizens' militia to provide protection from the Taliban, said Faramosh Khan, another local official.

Three offensives in South Waziristan since 2001 have ended in failure, with the government signing peace deals with the militants.

In the wake of this weekend’s siege at army headquarters in Rawalpindi, the government said it would not be deterred. The military launched two airstrikes on Sunday evening, against suspected militant targets in South Waziristan, killing at least five insurgents and ending a five-day lull in attacks there, intelligence officials said.

"We are going to attack the terrorists, the criminals over there who are damaging the state and disturbing the peace," Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said. "Wherever they will be, we will follow them. We will pursue them. We will bring them to justice."

[AP]

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