Pakistani forces have intensified their offensive against Taliban fighters, killing 57 rebels in fresh airstrikes and moving ground troops deep into their strongholds, the military said Thursday. Fighter jets bombed 20 hideouts in Khyber tribal district, which borders Peshawar city, where Taliban fighters on Tuesday massacred 148 people, including 135 students at an army-run school, a military statement said.
Ground troops also moved deeper into Tirah valley, a mountainous stretch near the Afghan border where various militant groups linked with al-Qaeda have long established sanctuaries, the statement said. Separately, paramilitary Rangers killed five suspected Taliban members in a raid in the southern port city of Karachi, a spokesman for the force said.
In Peshawar, life slowly returned to normal after being largely shut down on Wednesday to mourn the victims of the deadliest attack in Pakistan during more than a decade of violence. In the capital Islamabad, political and military leaders opened deliberations to discuss what officials called a new plan of action to fight militancy.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed Wednesday to crush the Taliban with the full force of the state and immediately ended a six-year moratorium on executions for those convicted of terrorism. Thousands of Pakistanis took to the streets in all major cities to condemn the attack and to push the government for decisive action against militants. SAPA