19:56 GMT17 January 2021
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    At least 65 Taliban militants were killed and their ammunition dump destroyed by two separate air strikes in Pakistan’s lawless northwest, according to the country’s military sources.

    The first of the two attacks occurred in Taliban hideouts in the Gharlamai and Shawal areas of the North Waziristan tribal region, along the Afghan border on Monday. According to the Associated Press, around 50 militants were killed by the air strikes, and their ammunition destroyed.

    "At least 50 terrorists were killed in precise air strikes in Shawal and Gharlamai this afternoon," a military statement read. "There are reports that terrorists’ infrastructure, including their ammunition dump, is badly damaged."

    An additional attack on the militant group was reported in the northwestern Khyber region, also bordering Afghanistan.  Citing military sources, Pakistan’s Ary News reported that 15 militants were killed by the air strike, bringing the total up to 65 on Monday.

    The air strikes are part of the Pakistan Army’s renewed offensive against Taliban insurgents in the restive Waziristan region, which began in 2014. At the time, the government vowed to step up its efforts against the group after a militant attack on a school in December killed 150 people, most of whom were children.

    The recent air strikes come in the wake of a twin suicide attack in the densely-populated Punjab province on Sunday. The attack targeted a building in the Shadi Khan village, and claimed the lives of at least 18 people, including  Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada.

    Khanzada, a vocal supporter of the Pakistan army’s offensive against Taliban militants, was holding a public meeting with his constituents when two suspected suicide attackers struck the building. Jamatul Ahrar, a group linked to the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attacks, and said they were in response to the death of Malik Ishaq, leader of an al-Qaeda affiliated group, at the hands of Pakistani police.

    Pakistan has been fighting a homegrown Taliban insurgency for over a decade, and according to military officials, more than 2,800 Taliban militants have been killed since the beginning of the renewed offensive last year.

    Shuja Khanzada, Al Qaeda, Taiban, Afghanistan, Waziristan, Pakistan
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