MIRANSHAH, PAKISTAN // Pakistani air strikes killed at least 32 militants including key commanders in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border on Wednesday.
The morning air strikes in the lawless North Waziristan mainly targeted the town of Mir Ali.
Several residents said the strikes also killed several civilians in a nearby village.
“Confirmed militant hideouts were targeted early morning today in North Waziristan through precise aerial strikes,” a senior security official said.
He added, “there are reports of 32 terrorists killed in strikes including some important commanders”.
The official did not disclose names of the commanders killed in the strikes.
“There were confirmed reports that terrorists involved in recent attacks including a blast at an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Peshawar, bomb attacks in Mohmand and Bajaur tribal regions ... and attacks on security forces convoys in NWA (North Waziristan), were hiding in these hideouts”, the official said.
Independent verification of the toll and identity of the dead was not possible as journalists are not allowed to enter the area.
North Waziristan is one of the seven semi-autonomous tribal areas, known as a stronghold of Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked militants.
The latest attack comes weeks after the Pakistani Taliban formally ended a ceasefire called to promote talks with the government aimed at ending the militants’ bloody seven-year insurgency.
Prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s government began negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) through intermediaries in February, with the ceasefire beginning March 1.
Since the TTP launched their insurgency in 2007, more than 6,800 people have been killed in bomb and gun attacks in Pakistan.
There have also been clashes between supporters of TTP commander Khan Said Sajna and followers of the late TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud.
The group has long been riven by infighting and the feud began after Sajna, a senior commander, was rejected for the leadership following the killing of then-leader Mehsud last November, militants say.
Mr Sajna had been seen as a strong candidate to become TTP chief following Mehsud’s death.
But the movement’s ruling council at the last minute elected Mullah Fazlullah, who hails from Swat and is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan.
* Agence France-Presse with additional reporting by Associated Press