Pakistan air strikes 'kill 15 militants'

Smoke bellows as security officials and airport staff visit the site damaged by Sunday's Taliban attack on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, 9 June 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Karachi airport was damaged by a Taliban assault on Sunday

The Pakistani military has carried out air strikes in tribal areas in the north-west of the country, killing at least 15 militants, officials say.

The raids destroyed nine militant positions in the Tirah Valley in Khyber district, the military said.

The strikes came after the Taliban stormed Karachi airport, in an attack that killed at least 30 people.

The Pakistani Taliban said Sunday's assault was in revenge for the killing of their leader last year.

"Nine terrorist hideouts were destroyed by early morning military air strikes near the Pakistan-Afghan border," the military said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Khyber tribal region, near the Pakistan-Afghan border, is believed to be a base for several militant groups and foreign fighters.

It is not clear when the air strikes took place or which militant group was targeted, the BBC's Shahzeb Jillani in Islamabad reports.

'Charred beyond recognition'

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Media captionSecurity forces battled the militants for at least six hours

Late on Sunday, 10 heavily armed Taliban fighters attacked an area of Karachi's Jinnah international airport used mainly for cargo and private flights.

Security forces gained control in the early hours of Monday.

The airport reopened late on Monday.

Officials said at least 29 people were killed in the fighting which raged from Sunday into Monday, including all the militants. On Tuesday, officials said nine more bodies had been recovered from the airport.

The number included seven bodies found in the airport's cold storage facility. Officials said they were charred beyond recognition.

There were reports that the bodies belonged to a group of airport employees who were trapped in the facility after taking refuge from the attack.

'Renewed pressure'

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

The airport attack came against the backdrop of a major split in the Pakistani Taliban, and threats of retaliation following limited military operations against foreign militants in North Waziristan.

The brazen attack has brought the government of the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, under renewed pressure to order tough action against the Taliban militants, says the BBC's Shahzeb Jillani.

The Pakistan government began peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban in March, but little progress has been made and the violence has continued, with Karachi a frequent target.

Correspondents say that given the violence, it seems clear that any pretence at a peace process is now over.

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