MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) – Pakistani fighter jets bombed Taliban hideouts in a northwest tribal region on Tuesday, killing six insurgents and wounding three others, security and intelligence officials said.
The attacks struck in South Waziristan, where the military has vowed to launch an all-out offensive to purge the region of Islamist extremists blamed for a wave of deadly bomb attacks in Pakistan over the past two years.
“Makeen and Nawaz Kot areas of South Waziristan were bombed,” said an intelligence official in the main provincial town Wana. “We have reports that six Taliban were killed and an unknown number of them were injured.”
A security official based in neighbouring Dera Ismail Khan district confirmed the death toll and said three insurgents were also wounded.
The attacks come amid increasing speculation that the military is on the brink of a ground offensive into South Waziristan, a hideout of Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels fighting in both Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan.
Security forces have been launching targeted air strikes in the semi-autonomous region and blocking roads for months, and although the military have vowed to strike with full force, the timing is unclear.
Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told the private Samaa TV channel that the Pakistani Taliban leadership holed up in the tribal areas were responsible for “80 to 90 percent of the terror activities in Pakistan.”
“According to our analysis, the root of the terror is in South Waziristan where this group is present. It is a must to root out this terror and curse, and for this purpose an operation in this area is inevitable,” he said.
“If we do not launch this operation then the terrorism will become strong and would spread in other areas.”
The offensive would follow similar military assaults against Taliban fighters in northwest Swat valley launched in late April, and another push against militants in nearby Khyber agency in September.
Despite military claims of success in both regions, sporadic attacks continue, with five militants killed and three soldiers injured in Khyber in clashes late Monday, a paramilitary Frontier Corps statement said.