Government officials have been threatening an operation in the lawless border area for months, but a string of recent suicide bombings blamed on the Taliban appeared to have strengthened their resolve to engage in what will likely be a long and bloody confrontation.
Military jets have been hitting suspected Taliban strongholds in the region for weeks. The airstrikes have grown more frequent in recent days in what appears to be an effort to soften up the militants ahead of a ground assault.
The military launched a new wave of air attacks across the militant heartland late Tuesday and early Wednesday, hitting at least five different areas, two intelligence officials said.
One attack on a hide-out in Makeen killed three insurgents, and another in Barwand killed six, they said. Meanwhile, forces in an army camp in Razmak shelled militant positions in the surrounding mountains, they said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Independent confirmation of the attacks was not available. The army has barred reporters from the region.
Pakistan has been hit by four major terrorist attacks over the last nine days, including a suicide bombing of a U.N. office in the capital, Islamabad, and a 22-hour siege over the weekend of the army's headquarters just outside the capital.
Source: Asharq Alawsat