Military air strikes kill 20 terrorists in northwest Pakistan

Military air strikes kill 20 terrorists in northwest Pakistan

Pakistani military today carried out fresh air strikes in Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency in the country's northwest, killing at least 20 terrorists, as peace talks with the Taliban remained suspended.

The strikes were carried out early this morning in which 20 terrorists are believed to have been killed while many were injured, security sources said.

"IEDs making factory and a huge quantity of explosives were destroyed in strikes," a military source said.

The attacks came a day after the air strikes in Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in which nine terrorists were killed.

The military has gone on an offensive and has carried out air strikes in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency killing over 40 suspected terrorist in last week.

The air strikes were carried out following a joint decision taken by the military and civilian leadership.

The precision bombardment was part of surgical strikes which sources said should not be taken as a full-fledged military operation.

The government has been trying to engage the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and others in peace talks to end the decade-long insurgency that has claimed about 40,000 lives.

The TTP, an umbrella grouping of numerous militant factions, has been waging a bloody battle against the Pakistani state since 2007.

However, the peace process suffered a setback after a Taliban faction beheaded 23 paramilitary personnel abducted in 2010.

Government negotiators have set a ceasefire as a precondition for another round of talks but Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesperson for the TTP, has blamed Islamabad for the deadlock and asked the state to declare a ceasefire first.

The military leadership took the civilian government into confidence, citing potential threats from terrorists holed up in their safe havens in the tribal belt.

The sources said the air strikes were aimed at protecting the people as militants were making plans to carry out attacks.

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