PESHAWAR: Air force jets Saturday pounded militants’ hideouts in the northwestern tribal belt close to the Afghanistan border and killed at least 15 Taliban insurgents, security officials said.The strikes were carried out in the Maizer area of the Datta Khail region in North Waziristan tribal district, which is considered as the last bastion of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants.“As many as four hideouts were destroyed in the strikes this morning. Among the 15 killed militants six were Uzbeks,” a security official in the area told AFP.
Another senior security official in Peshawar confirmed the strikes but did not give a death toll.“The air strikes have increased in the last few days and we have hit the targets today also. But I can’t give a collective toll because we have hit the hideouts many times during the last few days and the number of dead militants may vary,” he said.Pakistan Army announced on Wednesday it has begun the “last phase” of a bloody operation targeting militants in the restive northwest region along the Afghan border and army chief General Raheel Sharif had given the order to launch the final phase of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan.
The operation began in June 2014, after an attack on Karachi airport finally sank faltering peace talks earlier that year.Also on Saturday, an army soldier was killed and two others wounded when their vehicle hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted on a roadside in Datta Khail. The incident took place despite a curfew imposed in several areas of the region.