ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, (AP) – Pakistan killed 30 militants close to the Afghan border Sunday as America’s top diplomat in the region visited for talks with government leaders, officials said.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher’s trip comes amid strains between Pakistan and the United States over a spate of suspected American missile attacks on militant targets in the frontier zone in the country’s northwest.
The U.S. embassy gave no details on Boucher’s trip other than to say it had been planned for some time and that he was meeting a range of government officials.
Washington wants Islamabad to do more to fight al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the northwest that are blamed for rising attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Pakistan insists it is taking the threat seriously, but U.S. and regional officials suspect that elements within the government and security forces may be secretly aiding the militants, a charge denied by Islamabad.
In the latest fighting close to the border, Pakistani fighter jets bombed insurgents, killing up to 20, said army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas.
The bombs hit an ammunition dump, causing extensive damage, he said.
It was not immediately possible to independently confirm the casualties or the others reported Sunday. Reporters cannot visit the area because of poor security and government restrictions. No Taliban spokesman was available for comment.
In nearby Bajur district, seven insurgents were killed when jets bombed their positions, said Muhammad Jamil Khan, the No. 2 government official there.
Security official Fazl Rabi said three militants were killed in other parts of Bajur when they tried to attack security posts.
Pakistan claims to have killed more than 1,000 militants in Bajur since August.