Pakistan army bomb militants' hideouts
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
Islamabad, July 7, IRNA -- Pakistani security forces Wednesday used gunships and artillery to shell suspected hideouts of Taliban militants in North Waziristan tribal region a day after a roadside bomb attacked killed two soldiers in region, tribesmen said.
Scores of militants, several civilians and at least three soldiers were injured during exchange of firing, correspondents quoted local security sources as saying.
Main Taliban group in the region led by Hafiz Gul Bahadar denied involvement in the Tuesday’s attack at Datta Khel area, some 45 kilometers from Miranshah.
A spokesman for Taliban said that the 2007 peace deal with the government still works and they would trace and punish those behind the attack.
Tribal elders and religious leaders in North Waziristan also vowed to punish the attackers under tribal traditions and asked the army and political administration to show restrain.
Taliban and tribal elders were quick to intervene to avoid further escalation and the authorities later removed curfew in Miranshah, main town in North Waziristan, and adjoining areas to ease tension.
Prominent personalities -- Maulvi Gul Ramzan, Malik Jalal, Malik Eid Muhammad, Malik Farid and Maulvi Seemar Gul – assured the authorities that the attackers would not escape traditional punishment.
It is the first time in years that the security forces used helicopters and artillery to bomb hideouts of the militants. The main Miranshah Bazaar remained closed for hours and the residents said they heard huge explosions. Markets were opened later in the afternoon, residents said on phone. The phone network had also been suspended for several hours.
Earlier security forces dynamited a private hospital on Miranshah-Datta Khel Road which they believed had been using by the militants.
Taliban group, which is not part of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, said it has launched a campaign to identifying those who had attacked the convoy.
“There will be no misunderstanding in the future,” Taliban spokesman told reporters in Miranshah.
Power supply to the area had also been suspended to parts of North Waziristan, as at least 10 transformers were damaged during shelling, tribesmen said.
The security forces had declared a security alert and two main roadside checkpoints – Ali Shah and Khajori – had been closed.
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