Pakistan Army Kills 16 in Shootout as Sharif Steps Up Offensive – Businessweek

The Pakistani army said it killed 16
militants near the country’s northwest border with Afghanistan,
as the government steps up an anti-Taliban offensive following
an attack on a military school that left 134 students dead.

The shootout also injured 20 militants and four soldiers
late yesterday in villages along the border between Khyber and
Orakzai regions, about 45 miles from the scene of the Dec. 16
school massacre in Peshawar, according to a text message from
the army. Air strikes in the Datta Khel area of North
Waziristan, near the Afghan border, killed 39 militants, army
spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said today on Twitter.

The latest offensive comes 10 days after Pakistan’s Prime
Minsiter Nawaz Sharif and military leaders vowed to eliminate
terrorism in the nation. The school shooting, which left a total
of 152 people dead, has galvanized support to uproot Taliban
militancy that has killed more than 50,000 people since 2001 and
constrained economic growth.

“The government has made an iron resolve to deal with
miscreant elements with a heavy hand,” said a statement issued
today from Sharif’s office. “The government is committed to
take all necessary steps to ensure that blood spilled in
Peshawar carnage does not go waste.”

Sharif has called for “seamless coordination between law
enforcement agencies” and is considering legal amendments for
prosecuting militants “involved in execution, abetting or
financing of mass murders,” according to the statement.

The attack on the school was Pakistan’s deadliest since
2007, when a suicide bomber killed more than 140 people at a
political rally for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who
was later assassinated. Taliban militants claimed responsibility
for a suicide blast at the India-Pakistan border last month that
killed 53 people.

Six convicted terrorists have been hanged since Sharif’s
government lifted a ban on the death penalty following the
school massacre.

The Khyber region has previously been the site of attacks
on NATO supplies and the scene of yesterday’s ambush has
frequently been used by militants to get to Peshawar from the
Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan, according to a military
official.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Kamran Haider in Karachi at
khaider2@bloomberg.net;
Bhuma Shrivastava in Mumbai at
bshrivastav1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Arijit Ghosh at
aghosh@bloomberg.net
Matthew Brown, James Cone

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