PESHAWAR, KHYBER AGENCY - At least 48 suspected militants were killed and 12 of their hideouts destroyed when security forces carried out aerial raids in three areas of Khyber Agency and North Waziristan Agency on Tuesday.

As per a press release of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), 18 militants were killed and their nine vehicles and several motorcycles destroyed in the fresh strikes carried out by Pakistan Army’s Cobra gunship helicopters in the North Waziristan tribal region.

However, these claims could not be independently confirmed as journalists have limited access to the restive tribal agency.  Separately, in another strike of Cobra helicopter in North Waziristan Agency, the security forces killed 30 terrorists and destroyed their seven hideouts and nine vehicles.

The operation was launched on June 15, following a militant attack on Karachi’s international airport and failure of peace talks between the government and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan negotiators.

Nearly a million people have fled North Waziristan and shifted to downtown of Bannu where they have been provided with makeshift tents and other facilities of life.

The operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched to root out hideouts of militants in the North Waziristan Agency. The security forces have claimed clearance of 80 percent areas of the agency from militants’ captivity, however, not even a single family has so far repatriated to its area after the military operation.

Meanwhile, the forces claimed to have killed five militants and destroyed five of their sanctuaries in aerial strikes conducted on Tuesday here in Dwa Toai and Surkamr, the far-flung areas of Koki Khel tribe in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency.

The political administration confirmed the incident and said Pak jets also pounded suspected hideouts of militants in Speen Kabr, Nala, Kajori and Manday Kas of tehsil Bara and inflicted heavy losses on the militants in the area.

On the other hand, tribal sources denied the claims of the forces and said the jet fighters targeted civilian population in Bara and killed innocent local tribesmen in the air attacks.

Amirullah, a resident of Bara, alleged that Pak jet fighters hit his house in Manday Kas, killing his mother, a brother, a sister, a sister-in law and a niece.

With the assistance of locals, five bodies were recovered from the debris, he said. The house was also demolished in the air hits, he added.

NATO TRUCK DRIVER, CONDUCTOR KILLED IN JAMRUD

Ahmad Nabi adds from Khyber Agency: Driver of a NATO supply tanker along with his conductor was shot dead by unknown armed motorcyclists here at Hawaldar Chowki area of tehsil Jamrud, sub-division of Khyber Agency, official sources informed on Tuesday.

Sources said that an empty NATO supply tanker (630-TLK) was on its way back to Peshawar after delivering the allied forces’ assignment somewhere in Afghanistan when unknown militants riding on bikes intercepted it and opened indiscriminate firing at the driver and conductor. After the attack, the driver lost control over the steering and the vehicle crashed into a nearby house, injuring a woman and girls. Both driver and conductor of the vehicle died on the spot.

Soon after the incident, security officials rushed to the scene and shifted the dead bodies and injured to the Jamrud hospital. The deceased were identified as Saleem son of Ikram, resident of Lucky Marwat and Israr son of Rustam of Zakha Khel, Landi Kotal.