Air strikes kill 11 militants in Khyber



Pakistan Army said on Wednesday it had killed 11 militants in air strikes in a troubled tribal district near the Afghan border.

The raids took place Tuesday evening in Tirah area of Khyber district where the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and another banned militant group the Lashkar-e-Islam have taken refuge, the military said in a statement.

Pakistan has been battling Islamist groups in its semi-autonomous tribal belt since 2004 after its army entered the region to search for Al-Qaeda fighters who had fled across the border following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

In June the army began an offensive against militant hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal agency after a bloody raid on Karachi Airport ended faltering peace talks between the government and TTP.

North Waziristan is a major base for TTP as well as the Haqqani network which targets US and NATO forces across the border.

The United States has long called for action against militant groups operating there.

Army says it has killed more than 1,600 militants so far, with 126 soldiers losing their lives.

But the toll and identity of those killed is difficult to verify because journalists do not have regular access to the conflict zones.

Rights groups say a large number of civilians are among the dead.

Dozens of women and children were killed in an air strike in July, according to multiple accounts by residents, though the military described them as “35 fleeing terrorists”.