Pakistan army kills 34 militants in air strikes
18 March 2015, 13:59
Islamabad - Pakistan's military said it
killed 34 militants on Wednesday in air strikes on a tribal region near the
Afghan border as part of a major offensive against insurgents that began last
The Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam militant
groups are based in Khyber, one of seven autonomous tribal districts along
Pakistan's western border, which became a hideout for Islamist militants
following the US-led invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan in 2001.
"In precise aerial strikes in Tirah,
Khyber region, 34 terrorists were killed today," the military said in a
The military began its latest offensive in
Khyber in October 2014, four months after a similar operation in the North
Waziristan district which was triggered by a bloody Taliban attack on Karachi
airport that sank faltering peace talks.
Both conflict zones are off-limits to
journalists, making it difficult to verify the number and identity of those
Rights activists are wary of the death
tolls given by the military and say many women and children have also died.
Air strikes, artillery, mortars and ground
troops have all been used to take back territory.
Polio worker shot
Also Wednesday a polio worker was shot dead
in the tribal district of Bajaur, underscoring the continuing violence against
vaccination teams as Pakistan tries to eradicate the crippling childhood
disease that is endemic in only two other countries - Nigeria and Afghanistan.
"A polio worker was shot dead while
another sustained injuries when they were fired upon while administering polio
drops in Khamangra neighbourhood of Nawagai area in Bajaur tribal district,"
local administration official Fayaz-ul-Haq Sherpao told AFP.
The attack was confirmed by another senior
administration official, Sohail Ahmed Khan. It brings to 78 the number killed
in attacks on immunisation teams since December 2012.
Taliban militants have long claimed the
polio vaccination drive is a front for espionage or a conspiracy to sterilise
Muslims. They intensified their strikes after the CIA recruited a doctor to
carry out a fake immunisation drive to help track down then al-Qaeda chief Osama
Last year the number of polio cases
recorded in Pakistan soared to 306, the highest in 14 years.