The Pakistani military said it killed 28 local and foreign militants in air strikes in the volatile northwest of the country on Sunday, as evidence emerged that civilians had died in previous strikes. The bombing took place in the heavily forested Shawal valley, the military said in a statement.
It was part of an offensive that began last month to drive the Taliban from their stronghold in North Waziristan, a remote region that borders Afghanistan. The area has been heavily bombed in recent days. Residents say a bombing raid on Friday killed nine women, six children and two civilian men when their houses were hit. Aadil Khan, whose house was among five that were bombed, said he saw the bodies of his relatives being pulled from the rubble.
The military ordered the entire population of North Waziristan to leave ahead of the offensive, but some families stayed behind, either because they were too poor to afford to move, had sick members or did not think their area would be targeted. Residents say most militants moved out ahead of the ground offensive.
The United States has long urged Pakistan to take action against Taliban havens along the Afghan border. The Taliban and other militants used North Waziristan as a staging ground for planning attacks in Afghanistan.
The military says it has killed hundreds of militants in the offensive. It is impossible to verify their figures since the area is sealed off to journalists.