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48 Militants Killed in Air Strikes in Pakistan

The Pakistani military today killed at least 48 militants in fresh air strikes targeting Taliban hideouts in the country's troubled northwest, as six persons, including two infants and three women teachers, died in a roadside bomb attack.

The airstrikes were part of an ongoing military assault in predominantly lawless North Waziristan tribal region, bordering Afghanistan.

Cobra gunship helicopters targeted militants after jets hit their positions in North Waziristan and Khyber tribal regions, a military spokesperson said in a statement.

An initial round of airstrikes killed 18 militants this morning. "Thirty more terrorists were killed and nine vehicles and several motorcycles belonging to terrorists were also destroyed," the army said.

It said five militant hideouts were wiped out in Khyber while seven in North Waziristan and added that terrorist command and control systems were also eliminated in the strikes.

In the restive Bajaur Agency, a remote-controlled bomb hit a school van in which two adults, three women teachers and a passerby was killed.

The explosion completely destroyed the van, which was reportedly carrying its occupants to a local community school, in Salarzai area near Khar, the army said.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack but Taliban militants are against women receiving education and have often target educational institutions and people involved with the work.

Bajaur, located on Afghan-Pakistan border, is a sensitive region since Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah is believed to have taken refuge in Kunar Province after he escaped to Afghanistan in 2009.

Pakistan launched the long-awaited military assault in the North Waziristan tribal region, considered a stronghold of Taliban and other militants, on June 15 to avowedly flush out insurgents and regain full control of the district. The Pakistani ground forces moved in on June 30.

About 550 militants and over 35 soldiers have been killed in the operation, named Zarb-e-Azb, which has also displaced close to one million people.

The military assault was launched after a brazen attack by militants on Karachi airport in which 37 people died including all 10 terrorists.

The attack also put an end to government's peace process with the Taliban.

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PLACES: Pakistan
SECTION: International
OUTLOOK 19 August, 2014
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