An airstrike killed 15 militants in northwestern Pakistan, while two rockets landed near the region’s main airport, officials said on Thursday.
The strike hit a compound in Airab, a village in the semiautonomous Bajur region that borders Afghanistan. Jamil Khan, the No. 2 government representative in Bajur, the 15 dead included a Pakistani militant commander called Wali Rehman. Khan claimed that Rehman was known to shelter foreign militants linked to Al Qaeda.
Pakistan launched an offensive in Bajur three months ago to dismantle what they said was a virtual Taliban mini-state from where militants were flowing into Afghanistan.
The army claims to have killed some 1,500 insurgents. At least 73 troops and 95 civilians have also died, it says. Insecurity and government restrictions mean accounts of the fighting cannot be verified.
Ten dead, 30 hurt in blast
A suicide bomber killed 10 people and wounded 30 when he blew himself up at a meeting of ethnic Pashtun tribal leaders in northwest Pakistan’s Bajaur area on the Afghan border on Thursday, government officials said.
Pakistani security forces are fighting Islamist Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Bajaur and authorities are encouraging tribesmen to raise militias to force militants from the region.
The bombing took place as about 200 men of the pro-government Salarzai tribe gathered in Batmalai village, 20 km north of Khar, for a jirga, or tribal council, to draw up a plan to drive militants out of their area, the officials said.
“The bomber walked up to the jirga and set off explosives strapped to his body. Ten people were killed,” a senior government official in Khar, the main town in the region, told Reuters by telephone.