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Pak bombings fuel fears of bigger conflict

Peshawar, Feb. 25: Pakistani jets bombed what were believed to be militant hideouts in Waziristan this morning as the cabinet met to consider possible broader military action in the volatile border region, officials said.

A security official said fighter jets bombed the mountainous Shawal region on the border between North and South Waziristan early today. “A number of terrorist hide-outs have been completely destroyed,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Security officials said the strikes killed 30 militants in Shawal, a remote, thickly forested area.

The bombing was a continuation of a series of airstrikes by Pakistani jets in the Waziristan and Khyber tribal regions, which border Afghanistan. The strikes have fuelled speculations of possible stronger military action in the militant-infested North Waziristan tribal region — home to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, al Qaida, and myriad other Pakistani and foreign militant groups.

Sartaj Aziz, an adviser to Pakistan’s Prime Minister on national security, said yesterday that the federal cabinet planned to discuss in a meeting possible broader military action in the tribal region.

But he added that the option of dialogue with militants was still open. The cabinet is also considering establishing Pakistan’s first National Internal Security Policy to provide a unified platform for intelligence gathering.

The speculation that airstrikes were planned with the aim of softening targets ahead of a possible full-scale military operation has caused thousands of people in North Waziristan to flee to safer locations.

 
 
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