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23 militants, seven civilians killed in NW Pakistan unrest

AFP , Sunday 28 Sep 2014
Smoke billows from Jinnah International Airport in Karachi after the terror attack June 9, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

At least 23 militants and seven civilians have been killed in northwest Pakistan in attacks on rebel hideouts, a checkpoint clash and a motorcycle bombing, officials said Sunday.

The deaths occurred during attacks on Taliban hideouts by Pakistani jets, a US drone strike, a gunfight at a security forces checkpoint and the bombing at a camp for displaced people.

The air force staged attacks on five hideouts in the Shawal area of the North Waziristan tribal district overnight, a military statement said.

"In precise aerial strikes last night 5 terrorists hideouts were destroyed and 15 terrorists including foreigners were killed in Shawal area of North Waziristan Agency," it said.

The US drone attack on Sunday killed at least two militants in Karezai Pal village in neighbouring South Waziristan tribal district, security officials said.

"A US drone fired two missiles at a vehicle and at least two militants were killed and one was wounded," a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The militants had just parked their vehicle outside the main gate of a compound and had asked for drinking water from inside. Just when they were drinking water standing on the road, drones fired two missiles."

Their identities were not known but initial information indicated that they were not locals, the official added.

A militant source who called AFP from an unknown location also confirmed the missile strike and casualties.

Pakistan government in a statement issued by foreign ministry late Sunday condemned the drone attack.

Pakistan routinely protests against US drone strikes, which have been targeting militants in the tribal areas since 2004, saying they violate its sovereignty and are counterproductive in the fight against terror.

In another incident in the northwest, six militants were killed early Sunday in a gunfight that erupted after they attacked a paramilitary checkpoint in the Khyber tribal district bordering Afghanistan, officials said.

The Khyber district which is a gateway for NATO supplies to Afghanistan.

"A group of about 30 militants attacked the Ghundi checkpost early Sunday, but security forces had prior information about it and were well prepared," a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"At least six militants were killed in the gunfight and the attacking militants were forced to flee," the official said, adding there no casualties among security forces.

Also on Sunday a bomb planted in a motorcycle killed at least seven people and wounded 10 in the northwestern town of Hangu, police said.

The bombing took place at a camp for people displaced by unrest in the Orakzai and Khyber tribal districts.

Nobody immediately claimed responsibility but the area has a history of militant and sectarian violence.

Separately, a Taliban spokesman threatened possible attacks in Britain over the arrest of Muslim preachers including Anjem Choudary.

"We the Mujahideen of Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan Jamaat ul Ahrar urge the British government to treat the Muslims in your country with great care and respect," group spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said.

In a statement he said the group had the "capability to strike" inside the UK.

British police released radical preacher Anjem Choudary on bail on Friday, a day after he and eight others were arrested in an investigation into a banned extremist group.

They said the arrests were part of an investigation into Al-Muhajiroun, a banned extremist group co-founded by Choudary, a Briton of Pakistani descent known for making inflammatory statements.

Pakistan's military has been fighting since June to destroy bases of the Taliban and other militants in the tribal areas.

More than 1,000 militants and 86 soldiers have been killed so far, according to the military. The area is off-limits to journalists, making it impossible to verify the numbers.

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