Updated: 02/25/2014 15:45 | By Agence France-Presse

Pakistan airstrikes in northwest kill 30

Pakistani fighter jets bombarded Taliban hideouts in the troubled northwest Tuesday, killing at least 30 in the fourth airstrikes since peace talks stalled, in what analysts say is a surgical operation to reassert the military's dominance.


Pakistan airstrikes in northwest kill 30

Pakistani tribal families cross a military check point at the exit point of Saidgi village as they flee after air strikes on Taliban hideouts in the tribal district of North Waziristan on February 24, 2014 - by Thir Khan

The morning attacks on hideouts in the North and South Waziristan tribal districts were the latest in a series of airstrikes by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) since February 20 that have killed more than 100 alleged militants.

Experts say the strikes are designed to give the military the upper-hand if peace talks, which were suspended last week, resume and do not believe the army is prepared to launch a full-fledged operation in the area.

Independent verification of the death tolls in the strikes has not been possible since it is difficult for journalists to enter the area and civilian administrators are reluctant to comment.

The focus of Tuesday's attacks, which also involved helicopter gunships, was mostly the mountainous Shawal valley and Datta Khel in North Waziristan, and Sararogha in neighbouring South Waziristan, the officials said.

Residents said hundreds of families have fled their homes.

"People are leaving the area after a deadlock in peace talks," a resident of Miranshah told AFP by telephone requesting anonymity. 

They are taking shelter with relatives in Peshawar and other cities further away from the border, residents said.

Earlier this month Pakistan had entered into talks with the Taliban aimed at ending their seven-year insurgency.

But the militant group continued carrying out attacks on a near-daily basis, with dialogue suspended after the insurgents claimed last week they had executed 23 kidnapped soldiers in a northwestern tribal region. 

Since then the PAF has conducted a number of airstrikes in the volatile tribal regions.

- 'No operation' -

Retired general and security analyst Talat Masood said the military may be attempting to strengthen its position if talks eventually resume.

"The peace process if at all it continues now would be from a position of strength and not from a position of weakness. For some time it looked like (the Taliban) had the upper hand. These attacks change that," he said.

But despite the show of force, experts say the Pakistani military is not set to expand the operation with boots on the ground. 

Such a move would require much planning with help from US and Afghan forces on the other side of the border, as well as a contingency plan for the massive upheaval of refugees, Masood said. 

"In all probability they will engage in limited but forceful or targeted strikes for some time to weaken and push the militants," he said.

Imtiaz Gul, another security analyst, said: "Targeted strikes will continue in the near future also, they will neither end nor expand."

Negotiators for both the government and Taliban meanwhile told AFP the door for further dialogue remains open.

Professor Muhammad Ibrahim, a member of the Taliban talks team, said: "I don't rule out the possibility of resumption of talks at any stage."

"We will keep appealing both the government and the Taliban to stop following the path of violence and resume the stalled dialogue."

Rahimullah Yusufzai, a member of the government team, said the process could resume if the Taliban agreed to a ceasefire without preconditions and explain the deaths of the abducted soldiers.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。