ISLAMABAD - At least 20 suspected members of the feared Haqqani network and Hafiz Gul Bahadur were killed in the air strikes carried out by Pakistan Air Force fighter jets in Doga Madakhel area of North Waziristan Agency on Tuesday.

Security officials said the jet strikes were made on the intelligence reports and at least 8 terrorists were also injured in the strikes.

Official sources claimed that the militants killed belonged to Haqqani network, accused of some of the bloodiest attacks in Afghanistan including a blast that left 57 people dead last weekend. The air strikes were carried out in the Doga Madakhel area near the Afghan border, which is notorious for the militant stronghold.

A short statement by ISPR sent to the media stated, “Twenty terrorists were killed in precise aerial strikes in North Waziristan.” The statement did not give any further details.

According to security officials and media reports, the jets targeted hideouts of the Haqqani network and of local warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

Afghan officials claimed that the Haqqanis, who are aligned with the Afghan Taliban, were behind Sunday’s horrific suicide blast at a volleyball match in the east of the country.

At a time when Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif is on his official tour to US the strikes are more significant.  The US officials have long urged Islamabad to do more to stop the Haqqanis using North Waziristan as a base to target Afghan and NATO troops across the border.

According to ISPR, at least 1,327 terrorists have been killed during the operation Zarb-e-Azb while 226 soldiers including officials have embraced martyrdom.

Agencies add: “The dead included seven fighters of Haqqanis while the rest belonged to Gul Bahadur,” one intelligence official told AFP, requesting anonymity.

A second intelligence official confirmed that the target of Tuesday’s airstrikes were the Haqqani network and fighters of Gul Bahadur.

The official told AFP that a local Haqqani commander was among the dead, but his identity had not yet been ascertained.  Bahadur, a prominent local warlord once seen as “pro-Pakistani”, is unhappy with the military offensive in North Waziristan. A day before the air strikes, a Western diplomat said the Pakistani military and government’s stated commitment to pursue all insurgents was welcome. But the envoy voiced scepticism about whether this had been put into effect.

It was not possible independently to verify the casualties as media are banned from the area.

Pakistani jets and artillery began targeting rebel strongholds in North Waziristan in mid-June and ground forces moved in on June 30.

An AFP tally based on regular updates from the military puts the militant death toll at nearly 1,500, with 125 soldiers killed.

4 INJURED IN LANDMINE EXPLOSION

Staff Reporter from Peshawar adds: At least four persons were injured when a landmine explosive device hit a private vehicle in Orakzai Agency on Tuesday.

Local sources said that the incident occurred in Garo Village area in lower Tehsil of the Agency when a vehicle bearing registration number No-4332 carrying four passengers to a nearby village hit a landmine.

The blast badly damaged the vehicle and resulted in injuring of all the four persons including driver.

The injured persons were rushed to nearby agency headquarter hospital in Orakzai agency, where they were identified driver Muhammad Jehan son of Shad Khan, Shahid Hussain son of Itihad Hussain, Kareem Ali son of Neqab Ali and Amin Ali son of Shabir Hussain.

Soon after the incident Levies Forces rushed to the site and cordoned off the area. They also launched search action in the area and arrested several suspected persons.