Updated: 07/05/2014 23:27 | By Agence France-Presse

Air strikes kill Uzbek militants in Pakistan offensive

Pakistani jets bombed militant hideouts in a lawless tribal district Saturday, killing scores of Uzbek and local insurgents in a massive ongoing offensive against the Taliban, the military said.

Air strikes kill Uzbek militants in Pakistan offensive

In a picture released on July 2, 2014, Pakistani soldiers use metal detectors to clear an area during an operation against Taliban militants in Miranshah

Air strikes were carried out at Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, and Boya village after shots were fired at troops, according to a statement.

"Five terrorists hideouts, caves and huge cache of arms and ammunition were destroyed and scores of terrorists killed in early morning strikes, silencing the firers," it said.

"Most of the terrorists killed in strikes were Uzbeks," the statement added without providing casualty figures.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an Al-Qaeda affiliate, has had a large presence in Pakistan's tribal belt since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Last month Pakistan's military launched a long-awaited offensive in North Waziristan, aimed at wiping out longstanding militant strongholds in the area, which borders Afghanistan.

More than 500,000 people have fled the area with tens of thousands of families have leaving for the town of Bannu, close to North Waziristan.

Jets and artillery began hitting militant targets on June 15 to try to regain full control of the district after years of pressure from Washington and other powers.

The assault was finally launched after a dramatic attack on Karachi airport which killed dozens of people and marked the end of a faltering peace process with the Pakistani Taliban.

So far, 386 militants and 20 soldiers have been killed in the offensive, according to the military, though with the area off-limits to journalists the number and identity of the dead is impossible to verify.

Separately Saturday, a Pakistani solider was killed by an improvised explosive device explosion during a clearance operation after the air strikes, the military said.

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