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ISLAMABAD — Pakistani fighter jets pounded Taliban targets in the country's north-western region April 28, part of a wider military crackdown on militants inside its borders.
The air strikes killed between 70 and 75 militants in the Dir district, and flushed out many more, military spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas said.
They are part of the Pakistani army's intensified drive against the Taliban in its restive tribal regions. The Pakistani government has been criticised for not cracking down on militants along its border with Afghanistan.
The Pakistani military reported that it completed its operation to eliminate and expel militants in Dir, and is now focusing on the Buner district, Abbas said. Some 300 militants entered the Buner district a few days ago in violation of the Taliban's recent agreement to pull out of the district, he said. Buner is about 100 km from Islamabad, but Abbas said the militants posed no threat to the capital city.
Fighter jets are pounding targets in Buner and Swat Valley in an effort to block the militants' entry and exit points, he added.
Pakistan insists there is growing popular support for its military crackdown and its efforts to take on the Taliban.
"The (Pakistani) government has been hesitant and divided in going after these guys but public opinion, judging by what I read in the Pakistani newspapers, may be shifting," said regional analyst Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Centre and the author or editor of thirteen books and over 350 articles about the country. "The military will go into the field and reclaim territory, but it's not going to be pretty and it's not going to be easy."
Amnesty International's Asia Pacific director Sam Zarifi said he thinks the most important result of any military action against the Taliban is "whether the schools will once again open, whether the health units will once again operate."