35 militants killed in Pakistan air strikes

At least 35 militants were killed Thursday as Pakistan Air Force warplanes pounded their hideouts in North Waziristan region after getting approval of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The bombardment comes a day after Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said a ceasefire can be negotiated upon if the army stopped targeting its members. Official sources told Dawn online that militant hideouts in Dattakhel, Shawan and Mir Ali areas were targeted.

Military sources said the militants involved in the Peshawar cinema blast and an army officer's killing in frontier region of Peshawar were targeted in Khyber tribal region.At least 172 people, including security personnel and civilians, were killed in 19-day period during the dialogues with the TTP.

Sources said the decision over the attacks on militant hideouts in the region was made after three-day meetings between the government and military leaders.

North Waziristan is one of the seven regions in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas governed by tribal laws. An extremist insurgency led by the TTP plagues the region and the area is known to be infested with militants, including those from Al Qaeda and other organisations. Factories making improvised explosive devices and bombs were also destroyed in the strikes.

The military sources said the strikes were carried out after the army took the civilian government into confidence citing potential threats to the people from terrorists holed up in their safe havens in the country's tribal belt. The region, which lies along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, also comes under frequent attacks from the US drones which target militant hideouts.

Peace talks between the Taliban and the government, announced Jan 29, got stalled recently due to a recent surge in insurgent attacks and a claim by a Taliban faction Sunday that it had killed 23  security personnel kidnapped and held hostage since 2010.

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