2 killed as choppers target militant bases in NW Pakistan

Pakistani Army gunship helicopters pounded suspected militant hideouts in the restive North Waziristan tribal region on Monday, killing at least two persons and injuring others, according to a media report.

Peshawar: Pakistani Army gunship helicopters pounded suspected militant hideouts in the restive North Waziristan tribal region on Monday, killing at least two persons and injuring others, according to a media report.

The air strike targeted bases in several parts of Mirali area of North Waziristan Agency. Two persons were killed and several others wounded, the Dawn daily reported on its website.

There was no immediate confirmation of the operation from the military. The identity of the victims and the casualties could not be independently verified as media is barred from the tribal belt.

North Waziristan is one of seven regions in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that are governed by tribal laws. An insurgency by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan plagues the region, which is considered a safe haven for al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Another media report said the federal government is planning a targeted operation against banned groups in the settled areas including Punjab province ? as part of a wider strategy to combat militancy.

The operation is aimed at preempting attacks by these groups in cities and towns once a ground offensive is launched against militant hideouts in the tribal areas, an unnamed high-ranking official was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

Another official said the planned operation in North Waziristan Agency was part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle these groups.

Last week, the former interim chief of the Pakistani Taliban and 36 foreign fighters were reportedly among 50 militants killed in air strikes in North Waziristan. Air force jets and gunship helicopters bombed suspected militant hideouts on Monday night.

This was the first time the air force resorted to air strikes in North Waziristan since a ceasefire was finalised with local Taliban chiefs in 2007.