Pakistani Jets Target Militant Hideouts, 45 Killed

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Pakistan army jets and helicopters targeted militant hideouts near the Afghan border, killing 45 people identified as insurgents or members of their families, including women and children, security officials said Wednesday.

The attacks happened Tuesday in the Teerah Valley in the Khyber region, where al-Qaida and Taliban militants are known to have found sanctuary. There was no independent confirmation of the casualty figures because the area is too dangerous for outsiders to visit.

There were few details about the raids, except that they took place in several villages in the valley and had killed 45 people. One security official said some vehicles rigged with explosives had also been destroyed. He could not say how many.

The official said that "there might be civilian deaths as the terrorists were living with their families."

Another intelligence officer said some women and children had been killed in the attacks.

Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

In April, the Teerah Valley was hit by army air strikes in April that killed about 60 civilians. The army, which initially described the victims as insurgents, ended up paying compensation to their families and its chief issued a rare public apology.

Pakistan's army has been fighting Islamist militants in different parts of the northwest for more than two years.

Militants who fled major operations in South Waziristan and Orakzai tribal regions are believed to have set up new bases in Khyber, which is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of the main city in the region, Peshawar.