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Mar 25, 7:50 AM EDT

Pakistani army: Tribal region airstrikes kill 30 militants



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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistani military jets killed 30 militants near the Afghan border on Wednesday, an army statement said.

The airstrikes in the Khyber tribal region's Tirah Valley pounded several militant hide-outs, destroying two arms and ammunition depots as well, the army said.

It's the latest in a days-long army offensive in the area, largely controlled by a militant group called Lashkar-e-Islam, or Army of Islam, which recently announced its support for the Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani Taliban and its allies operate on both sides of the porous border.

The army said its operation killed 80 militants over the weekend. Seven Pakistani soldiers also died.

Meanwhile, a suspected U.S. missile strike in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan, killed at least nine militants with the Lashkar-e-Islam group on Tuesday, said two Pakistani intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to discuss the strike. The cross-border intelligence was based on militant radio traffic and sources on the ground.

The strike comes during Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's visit to Washington where he was asking for a firm commitment of American military support in his fight against the Taliban and other insurgent groups. President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that the U.S. will slow its military withdrawal from Afghanistan, maintaining 9,800 troops in the country through the end of 2015.

Pakistan has stepped up anti-militant efforts after the Taliban attacked a school in December in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing 150 people - mostly children.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told business leaders in the port city of Karachi on Wednesday that Islamabad was resolved in its fight against terrorism.

"We will not let them succeed," he said.

The Taliban have been launching attacks for more than a decade in a bid to overthrow the government and install their own harsh brand of Islamic law. Thousands have been killed.

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