Pakistan military says 23 militants killed in air strikes

ISLAMABAD, (AFP) - Pakistani air strikes on Sunday killed 23 militants including foreigners in the country's restive tribal regions near the Afghan border, the military said, part of a major ongoing operation against the Taleban.

The attacks took place in areas close to the border with Afghanistan in Khyber and North Waziristan tribal districts.

"(A) huge ammunition dump was also blown up during the strikes in Khyber," the military said in a statement, without giving the identities of those killed or who they fought for.

Khyber is a known stronghold for militants belonging to the Pakistani Taleban and its Lashkar-e-Islam faction.

The area is remote and off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to verify the army's claims.

The military began an offensive in Khyber in October 2014, carrying out air strikes and using artillery, mortars and ground troops.

Pakistan has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency for over a decade following the late 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan. In June last year it launched a major campaign against the Taleban and other militant strongholds in the North Waziristan tribal area.

Authorities have vowed to intensify operations to take back territory both in the border regions and other parts of the country.

The military says it has killed more than 2,700 militants since the launch of the offensive a year ago.

Meanwhile, one soldier was killed and three wounded when a checkpoint near the Shawal area of North Waziristan came under rocket attack on Sunday, security officials said, taking the Pakistani military's death toll during the operation to 348.