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Pakistan jets kill 15 Taliban militants: officials

PESHAWAR: Pakistani jets bombed militant hideouts in a northwestern tribal area early Thursday, killing at least 15 Taliban insurgents, officials said.

The jets targeted hideouts in the Upper Orakzai area and destroyed four compounds in the rugged terrain near the Afghan border.

“Two war planes were sent to the area early this morning after reports from local intelligence sources that militants from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were hiding in the mountainous region,” a senior military officer told AFP.

“The bombings targeted Khadizai, Samarbazar and Bermela areas and destroyed four hideouts,” he said adding that at least 15 militants were killed.

Local security officials confirmed the air strikes and the casualties.

Independent confirmation of the death toll was not immediately possible as the lawless tribal region is barred for journalists.

Most of Upper Orakzai is in Taliban hands and is the scene of frequent clashes between security forces and Islamist militants while government troops are in control of its lower reaches.

A similar air strike early this month left 20 militants dead, officials said.

Pakistan’s seven tribal districts near the Afghan border are rife with homegrown insurgents and are strongholds of Taliban and al Qaeda operatives.

Militants have killed more than 4,800 people across Pakistan since government troops raided an extremist mosque in Islamabad in July 2007.

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