Air strikes kill 40 militants in NW Pakistan: military

Pakistani troops take position on a hilltop post near a town in the troubled tribal region of South Waziristan, along the Afghan border, on November 17, 2009

Air strikes Sunday killed 40 suspected militants in northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border as part of a major operation against the Taliban and other insurgents, the military said. The attacks took place in the Shawal area of the North Waziristan tribal region, where the army has been waging an offensive against militant hideouts since June last year. "In precise aerial strikes, 40 terrorists were killed this afternoon in Shawal," the military said in a statement. It said it had reports that several others were wounded, without giving details. The conflict zone is remote and off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to verify the army's claims -- including the number and identity of those killed. Pakistan has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency for over a decade. The military says more than 2,800 militants have been killed since the launch of the latest offensive. In a separate incident, three paramilitary soldiers and two militants were killed Sunday in a gunfight on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, at a post in Chaghi district of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, officials said. A paramilitary force spokesman and a senior provincial security official told AFP that the attackers had crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan.