Pakistan’s military said at least 38 suspected insurgents were killed after government fighter jets pounded militant hideouts in the country's lawless tribal areas.
The February 23 raid came after peace negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, or TTP) broke down last week and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif authorized the army on February 20 to attack militants in the volatile region along the Afghan border.
In a statement, the military said “important commanders” were among the dead in the offensive in the Tirah valley of Khyber tribal agency, adding that at least six hideouts were destroyed.
The toll could not be independently verified. There were also no immediate reports of civilian casualties.
The strikes were the third in a series of raids by Pakistan's Air Force (PAF) since February 20. That came just days after the TTP claimed it had executed 23 Pakistani soldiers in captivity.
The reported killings and the government’s subsequent retaliation have cast doubts over peace talks between the TTP and Islamabad that began in late January.
In other violence that could derail talks, 12 people were killed and over a dozen injured after a bomb blast near a busy bus terminal in the northwestern city of Kohat, located in the volatile province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Mujeebur Rehmna, a resident of Kohat, was at the site of a deadly bombing.
"We were passing by when an explosion went off. It was a huge blast. Six or seven people died on the spot. Around eight to 10 have been injured. Some of them have been injured very badly," Rehmna said.
Police said the explosives were planted in a cooking oil container and placed near the bus terminal in Kohat, near the provincial capital Peshawar, before being detonated remotely.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but previous attacks in the city, home to a minority Shi'ite population, has been blamed on the TTP.
Based on reporting by AFP and defense.pk