Four suspected militants were killed Friday as Pakistan’s armed forces hit Taliban targets in a third day of action in a restive tribal region close to the Afghan border.
The military used mortars and helicopter gunships to pound suspected Taliban hideouts in North Waziristan, one of seven tribal districts where insurgents have strongholds.
Friday’s operation comes after two days of fighting in the area which began on Wednesday with air strikes and ground clashes which left at least 71 suspected militants and four security personnel dead.
“Security forces fired mortar shells from Miranshah fort on the contiguous areas of Machis camp, Kharwani and Sukhail Wazir Friday morning, accompanied by pounding suspected militant hideouts with gunship helicopters,” an intelligence official based in Miranshah.
Is the primary township of North Waziristan and Machis camp a region along its outskirts which was once a camp for Afghan refugees but is today thought to be used by militants.
The official said four suspected militants were defeated and later security forces ran out a door to door search, arresting five others.
The violence comes as another blow to peace talks between the government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which have produced little forward motion since they started in February.
Washington has long pressured Islamabad to take out an operation to stamp out militant hideouts in North Waziristan, from where they launch attacks against US and NATO military personnel in Afghanistan.
But it was not clear if the latest military action was the start of such an operation. The armed forces took out similar strikes in January which ended suddenly after a few days.
There have been a number of insurgent attacks on security forces in recent weeks and the air raids and the current strikes fit a pattern of the armed forces responding by running into the insurgent’ bases in the tribal region