Military Jets Bomb Targets in South Waziristan

Authorities said, Tuesday Pakistani jets bombed militant targets in the main insurgent stronghold along the Afghan border ahead of an expected ground offensive there. Meanwhile, the army killed 26 insurgents elsewhere in the northwest.

The army's resolve to launch the offensive has been deepened by a recent series of bold and deadly attacks. On Tuesday, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide assault Monday that killed 41 people, including soldiers, in a northwest district next to the troubled Swat region.

The army says 80 percent of the militant attacks plaguing nuclear-armed Pakistan are planned from South Waziristan, while the United States says insurgent leaders blamed for spiraling violence in Afghanistan are also based in the lawless, remote area, Houston Chronicle reports.

In the meantime, during the past three months, military jets have been bombing targets in the region, and the military has been trying to cut off militant supply and communication lines. Authorities are also trying to secure the support of militant factions that in the past have agreed not to attack Pakistani troops.

Bombing runs Tuesday destroyed around 15 houses in the Makeen, Ladha and Barwand regions of South Waziristan, a local intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief to the media.

No army spokesman was available to comment. However, the military said in a statement that "terrorists fired 31 rockets" at a convoy of security forces in South Waziristan on Tuesday, wounding two soldiers. It was unclear whether the army bombed the militant targets before or after the rocket attack.

In a reminder of the militants' reach, authorities said helicopter gunship attacks killed 26 insurgents in Bajur, a tribally administered region 185 miles (300 kilometers) north of Waziristan. The army undertook a major offensive there six months ago and declared it free of insurgents, but some remain, The Associated Press reports.

It was also reported, the Pakistani military has been targeting militant hideouts in South Waziristan over the past month, sealing access to the region in preparation for a major ground offensive, military spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas told CNN last week.

Both government and military officials say the offensive is coming soon but have yet to announce a date.

Fearing the impending ground offensive in South Waziristan, civilians have fled en masse from South Waziristan to the adjacent districts of Tank and Dera Ismail Khan, the senior military official said, CNN reports.

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