Airstrikes by Pakistan’s military overnight killed 150 militants in the northwestern tribal regions near the Afghan border, Pakistani government sources said Sunday.
Pakistan government forces said Uzbek militants were among those killed, but local Taliban sources denied that.
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The airstrikes came a week after a deadly Taliban attack on the Karachi airport — which militant commanders said was aided by Uzbek jihadists.
The area where the airstrikes occurred is a remote tribal region and stronghold of the Haqqani network — part of Afghanistan’s Taliban. The same group claimed responsibility for the capture of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl in June 2009.
In 2006, the Pakistani government signed a peace agreement with local Taliban in the area but since then foreign militants have come in.
After the Karachi attack, the Pakistan government told Taliban militants to expel the foreigners or face action.
Uzbekistan doesn’t share a border with Pakistan, but Uzbek militants have bases around the lawless areas straddling Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.
Uzbek militants also helped the Pakistani Taliban during its attack on Peshawar's airport last year.
First published June 14 2014, 9:39 PM
Mushtaq Yusufzai is a journalist based in Peshawar, Pakistan. Originally from Mardan in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, he began his journalism career in 1999 as a health reporter on the News, a leading English-language daily.
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But his professional life was transformed by the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the subsequent U.S.-led ousting of the hardline Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
He was always interested in reporting on Pakistan's tribal areas because he found them to be the most challenging.
He has roved Pakistanâ€™s dangerous tribal belt in the course of his reporting for NBC News since 2004, including mountainous Waziristan. He has risked life and limb â€“ and endured several kidnappings â€“ to get the story from the Taliban and warlords in Pakistanâ€™s dangerous tribal region.
He was the winner of the inaugural Kate Webb award, set up by Agence France-Presse (AFP) to honor the life and career of the legendary foreign correspondent, in 2008.
In 2009, Yusufzai was among the four journalists, out of 400 worldwide, selected for the Dag Hammarskjold Fellowship and invited to New York to attend U.N. General Assembly.
The World Health Organization in 2010 and 2011 awarded him with gold medals for investigative journalism in health related to polio. And in 2012, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department gave him a gold medal for best health reporting related to polio in the region.