Air strikes kill Taliban militants in northwest tribal region

Air strikes killed 15 Taliban members in the restive tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, as militants beheaded three tribesmen who they accused of spying for the United States.


AFP - Air strikes killed 15 Taliban in restive Pakistani northwestern tribal areas on Sunday as militants beheaded three tribesmen accusing them of spying for the United States.

Five militants were killed in a strike on a village in Orakzai tribal district, where militants fleeing a military operation in South Waziristan tribal district have taken refuge.

"Two jet fighters carried out air strikes at a militant hideout at Ghiljo. Five militants were killed," a senior paramilitary official told AFP.

In a second air strike in Kurram, another tribal district, 10 militants were killed, the official and local administration chief Fazal Qadir said.

The death toll could not be verified by independent sources as the area is under military operations.

In North Waziristan, another tribal district and known as a Taliban hotbed, militants Sunday beheaded three tribesmen they accused of spying for US forces stationed across the border in Afghanistan.

"Notes found with the bodies said the men were killed for spying for the US," tribal police official Nisar Khan told AFP.

Khan said the Taliban accused the three dead men of killing "several Taliban and ordinary people."

A local security official confirmed the incident.

Islamist militants frequently kidnap and kill local tribesmen, accusing them of spying for the Pakistani government or US forces, who are battling a Taliban-led insurgency in war-torn Afghanistan.

Late on Sunday missiles fired from US drones killed at least five militants in North Waziristan, security officials said.

"A US drone fired two missiles on a militant compound near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. At least five militants were killed," a senior security official told AFP.

"It is not immediately clear if there was any important target," he added.

Two other security officials and an intelligence official confirmed the drone strike and death toll.

"The targeted compound belongs to a relative of a militant commander," the official said.

Elsewhere, a remote-controlled bomb attached to a bicycle killed three people and wounded 14 others in Quetta city, capital of the southwestern province of Baluchistan.

The blast, targeting a senior policeman, killed his driver and security guard as they drove past but the officer was not in the car, police official Hamid Shakeel told AFP.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but similar bombings have been blamed on separatist, secular tribal rebels in Baluchistan.

A timed bomb planted on an oil tanker carrying fuel for NATO forces in Afghanistan exploded near the southwestern town of Chaman but there were no casualties, police said.

Pakistan's rugged tribal regions have been wracked by violence since becoming a stronghold for hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels who fled across the border to escape the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.


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