DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan, (AP) – Pakistani jets bombed militant targets in the main insurgent stronghold along the Afghan border Tuesday ahead of an expected ground offensive there, an official said.
The army says 80 percent of the militant attacks plaguing the nuclear-armed country are planned from South Waziristan, while the United States says insurgent leaders blamed for spiraling violence in Afghanistan are also based in the lawless, remote area.
The army and the government have agreed to launch what is expected to a bloody and difficult ground operation in the mountainous region to clear it of militants. An army spokesman Monday declined to say when the operation would begin, but there has been speculation it could be imminent.
Ahead of the offensive, jets have been bombing targets, and the military has been attempting to cut off militant supply and communication lines. Authorities are also trying to secure the support of militant factions that in the past have agreed not to attack Pakistani troops.
Bombing runs Tuesday destroyed around 15 houses in the Makeen, Ladha and Barwand regions of South Waziristan, a local intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief to the media.
The militant threat to Pakistan has been highlighted by four major terrorist attacks over the last nine days, including a suicide attack on a U.N. office in the capital that killed five staffers and a 22-hour siege on the army’s headquarters over the weekend.