PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Pakistani air force jets bombed militant hideouts in the country’s volatile northwest, officials said Thursday, after government efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the Pakistani Taliban broke down earlier this week.
A Pakistani military official and two intelligence officers said 15 suspected militants were believed to have been killed in the airstrikes.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has favored peace talks over military action to end the bloodshed in the northwest. Those efforts made limited progress this month when a government-appointed committee met with representatives nominated by the militants.
But negotiations were troubled from the start as militant attacks continued.
A deadly bombing claimed by the Pakistan Taliban last week killed 12 police officers in the port city of Karachi.
A faction of the Taliban also claimed they killed 23 soldiers on Sunday in reprisal for the killing of some of their members. After that, government negotiators told the prime minister they couldn’t continue the talks unless the militants renounced violence.
The Pakistani Taliban said Wednesday they would agree to a cease-fire only if government negotiators could assure them there would be no more killings of their members.
The airstrikes late Wednesday hit villages in the North Waziristan tribal region, a hotbed of militant activity that borders Afghanistan to the west. Airstrikes Thursday struck the Khyber tribal region. The 15 dead were killed in North Waziristan. A security official said there were reports of militants also killed in Khyber but offered no details.