Aerial attacks kill 22 militants in Pakistan

August 30th, 2008 - 10:21 am ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 30 (DPA) At least 22 pro-Taliban militants have been killed as jet planes pounded insurgents’ position, while four people died when troops foiled a car suicide bombing in northwest Pakistan, security officials said.”Helicopter gunships bombarded militants’ hideouts in Shakai areas of the Swat district this afternoon,” said a local security official Friday.

The strike was carried out on an intelligence report that Maulana Fazlullah, who has lead the Islamic insurgency in the region for the enforcement of Taliban rule since last year, was present in the area with his some important commanders.

Swat, a scenic valley, was formerly a most popular destination in the restive North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

“According to preliminary reports 22 insurgents have died in the attack,” said the official, requesting anonymity.

Military spokesman, Major Murad Khan, confirmed that the militants’ positions had been targeted, but he said the reports about the casualties were yet to come.

“We have come to know so far that numerous militants have died in the action but we do not know the exact numbers,” he told DPA.

Separately, four people, including two paramilitary soldiers, were killed and more than 30 wounded in a foiled car bomb attack on a military camp close to a key road tunnel in NWFP.

The incident occurred near the lawless town Darra Adam Khel, 45 km south of the provincial capital Peshawar, as paramilitary troops fired at a pickup truck that failed to heed warnings to stop at a cordon.

“The gunfire detonated explosives packed in the vehicle, killing the suicide bomber,” Major Murad said, adding that flying debris and shrapnel wounded around 30 Frontier Corps troops guarding Kohat Tunnel.

A local security official in the semi-tribal district said two civilian passers-by died in the blast, while two Frontier Corps soldiers succumbed to their injuries later in the day.

Pro-Taliban militants accepted responsibility for the attack. Their local spokesman, who goes by the name Mohammad, told journalists in Kohat by telephone from an undisclosed location that the attack was carried out to avenge yesterday’s arrest of their local commander.

Clashes broke out around Kohat Tunnel early this year during which pro-Taliban fighters also briefly captured the 1.9 km tunnel on the strategic Indus Highway, which connects the province with central and southern Pakistan.

Tensions rose in Darra Adam Khel, a town known for the illegal trade of arms and narcotics, in mid-2007 when militants bombed several video shops and girls’ schools in an attempt to enforce strict Taliban-style laws in the region.

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