Airstrikes kill 40 militants in northwest Pakistan
Last Updated: Sunday, May 16, 2010, 21:55
Peshawar: Helicopter gunships pounded Taliban positions in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region on Sunday killing at least 40 insurgents, and injuring 10 others as they destroyed seven militant hideouts.

The Taliban meanwhile freed 50 of the 60 people kidnapped a day earlier in the adjoining Kurram tribal agency.

A security official in Orakzai said the gunship helis targeted four rebel hideouts in Dabori, Wali Kamar, and Gujar Kalay, believed to be used as a preparing ground for attacks on security forces.

"All positions were engaged and destroyed effectively", said the security official on condition of anonymity.

Major Fazal-ur-Rehman, a spokesman of paramilitary Frontier Corps, that is spearheading the offensive on Taliban and al Qaeda in the lawless tribal region, confirmed the attacks.

Reports said 40 militants died in two rounds of shelling in the same areas.

Pakistani troops moved into Orakzai in March to quell the insurgency. The military claims it has killed more than 700 militants since then, while losing 18 soldiers.

Meanwhile, 50 people kidnapped by Taliban militants from the adjoining Kurram district, have been set free.

Sixty people were kidnapped by dozens of militants who appeared dressed as policemen.

Khalid Omarzai, Commisioner Kohat Division, said efforts were underway to gain the release of the other 10 people still held.

Omarzai claimed the rebels released the captives unconditionally.

The military is also conducting an operation against militants in Kurram agency, which has been a scene of bloody clashes between Shiite and Sunni tribesmen as well as a rising Islamist insurgency.

Sunni tribesmen usually get support from the Taliban.


First Published: Sunday, May 16, 2010, 21:55

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