Pakistan and Afghanistan discuss security amid strikes

Pakistani army troops ride military vehicles following an operation launched against the Taliban in North Waziristan, in Karachi, Pakistan, 16 June 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Pakistan has launched an offensive against militant strongholds in the north-west

The Pakistani and Afghan leaders have discussed regional security amid air strikes against militants in Pakistan's north-west tribal areas.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Hamid Karzai held talks by phone, on the second day of Pakistani air raids in North Waziristan.

The army said about 170 militants have been killed in the offensive, and at least six soldiers have died.

It comes days after a deadly attack on Karachi airport claimed by the Taliban.

Pakistan has asked Afghanistan to help seal potential militant escape routes across the porous border into Afghanistan, the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad reports.

Pakistan has been fighting an Islamist insurgency for more than a decade, with the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) the main militant grouping.

'Bathed in blood'

Speaking earlier on Monday, Mr Sharif told parliament the air strikes were necessary because "the enemy has left us no choice".

Image copyright AP
Image caption Tanks, planes and infantry have been deployed in the latest operation
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tens of thousands of people have fled the region for other parts of Pakistan
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, is among the areas under curfew

"We will no longer allow Pakistan to be a sanctuary for terrorism at any cost," he said.

"The world knows that on the one hand we were engaged in dialogue with these people and on the other hand our children, women and youth were being bathed in blood.

"It is a matter of sorrow and pain that after four-and-a-half months of talks, we could not make a breakthrough for peace," he added.

The government had begun peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban earlier this year, but there was little progress.

'State of war'

At least 29 people, and the 10 gunmen, were killed in the attack on Karachi airport on 8 June. The Pakistan military has since conducted a series of raids against militant hideouts.

Tens of thousands of civilians had fled North Waziristan in anticipation of the latest offensive, officials said.

Tanks and foot soldiers have been deployed in addition to fighter jets.

On Monday, the army said six soldiers had been killed by a roadside bomb.

Another two died in a shootout with militants, AP news agency reported.

Also on Monday, a TTP spokesman said in a statement they were "in a state of war", and warned foreign businesses to "sever their ties" with the government or face consequences.

On Sunday, the government announced that Abu Abdul Rehman al-Maani, an Uzbek believed to have helped organise the Karachi airport assault, was among those killed in the offensive in the mountainous area bordering Afghanistan.

There is no independent media access to the area and no way of confirming the government's casualty figures.

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