Pakistani combat jets pounded militant bases in the North Waziristan tribal region, including the home of Taliban commander Adnan Rashid, and killed 25 terrorists in retaliation for a string of attacks on security forces.
Though some news channels reported Rashid was killed with some members of his family, the military sources said this could not be confirmed.
Rashid escaped with scores of hardened militants during a daring jailbreak engineered by the Pakistani Taliban in the northwestern city of Bannu in April 2012.
“On the basis of confirmed intelligence reports about the presence of militants, their hideouts were targeted by air strikes last night in North Waziristan Agency. Twenty-five terrorists were killed,” a military source said.
The source claimed those killed included terrorists linked to attacks on a church and Qissa Khwani Bazar in Peshawar as well as a bombing within Bannu cantonment on Sunday that killed 26 troops.
“Scores of militants were injured in these strikes,” the source said.
Unconfirmed reports said civilians were also killed in the air strikes. The casualties could not be independently verified as journalists are barred from the tribal belt.
Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif visited Bannu on Tuesday and met victims of the bomb attack at a military hospital.
The operation by air force jets took many by surprise. This was the first time the air force resorted to air strikes in North Waziristan since a ceasefire was finalised with local Taliban chiefs in 2007.
Fear and panic gripped areas struck by the overnight blitz which flattened several houses. Gunship helicopters conducted fresh strikes this morning, causing local residents to flee to safer places, the website of Dawn newspaper reported.
Sources said those wounded in the attacks could not be shifted to hospitals due to a curfew imposed in the area.
North Waziristan is one of seven regions in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas governed by tribal laws. An insurgency led by the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan plagues the region, which is a safe haven for Al Qaeda and other extremist organisations.