MIRANSHAH: Pakistani fighter jets bombarded Taliban hideouts in the troubled northwest on Tuesday, killing at least 30 in the fourth airstrikes since peace talks st alled, in what analysts say is a surgical operation to reassert the military’s dominance.
The morning attacks on hideouts in the North and South Waziristan tribal districts were the latest in a series of airstrikes by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) since February 20 that have killed more than 100 alleged
Experts say the strikes are designed to give the military the upper-hand if peace talks, which were suspended last week, resume and do not believe the army is prepared to launch a full-fledged operation in the area.
Independent verification of the death tolls in the strikes has not been possible since it is difficult for journalists to enter the area and civilian administrators are reluctant to comment.
The focus of Tuesday’s attacks, which also involved helicopter gunships, was mostly the mountainous Shawal valley and Datta Khel in North Waziristan, and Sararogha in neighboring South Waziristan, the officials said.
Residents said hundreds of families have fled their homes.
“People are leaving the area after a deadlock in peace talks,” a resident of Miranshah said.
They are taking shelter with relatives in Peshawar and other cities further away from the border, residents said.
Earlier this month, Pakistan had entered into talks with the Taliban aimed at ending their seven-year insurgency.
But the militant group continued carrying out attacks on a near-daily basis, with dialogue suspended after the insurgents claimed last week they had executed 23 kidnapped soldiers in a northwestern tribal region.