UK & World News

  • 15 June 2014, 13:39

Families Flee As Pakistani Jets Target Taliban

Fighter jets have carried out airstrikes on suspected Taliban hideouts in Pakistan, as hundreds of families flee the area to escape more violence.

The raid, which were in response to a rebel attack on the country's busiest airport a week ago,reportedly killed nearly 80 militants in the tribal North Waziristan region.

The Pakistani military claimed many of the dead were Uzbeks, and among them was apparently key commander Abdul Rehman.

He was said to be directly involved in masterminding the assault at Karachi's Jinnah international airport.

The militant group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan had claimed responsibility for the commando-style attack where a squad of highly-trained fighters raided the facility last Sunday.

Following the Karachi attack, in which 10 militants were among 38 people killed, US drones conducted the first air strikes in Pakistan since the start of the year, hitting militant positions.

Planes are seen near a section of a damaged building at Jinnah International Airport, after Sunday's attack by Taliban militants, in Karachi.

Pakistani air force jets have also been hitting rebel hideouts and there is speculation the army is preparing for a major ground and air offensive in the region that borders Afghanistan.

"There were confirmed reports of the presence of foreign and local terrorists in these hideouts who were linked in planning the Karachi airport attack," the military said.

In anticipation of more violence, families have been fleeing into Afghanistan and other parts of Pakistan as an atmosphere of fear has gripped the mountainous region.

"All the family members gathered in the yard in fear," said resident Tawab Khan from the village of Boyapul, about five miles from where the airstrikes hit.

"We could hear big bangs but they didn't come from very close to our area."

Aziz Khan, a student who was escaping to Bannu with his extended family, said: "We are coming from Mir Ali because the situation there is very bad.

"Our schools are closed. The hospital is closed. The government is giving us great trouble."

Jabar Nahimi, governor of eastern Afghanistan's Khost province said around 300 Pakistani families had fled over the border because they were worried about fighting between Pakistani forces and Pakistani Taliban.

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