17 December 2014, NYT: Pakistan's Military Campaign Against the Taliban
DEC. 19, 2014
Resolve Hardened by Massacre at School, Pakistani Forces Kill Dozens of Militants
By ISMAIL KHAN
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Military action against the Pakistani Taliban intensified on both sides of the border with Afghanistan on Friday, officials said, in a reflection of hardening resolve to fight the group after it carried out the school massacre in Peshawar  this week.
In Pakistan, the military said it killed 62 militants in airstrikes and clashes near the border, mostly in the Khyber agency, a tribal area, on Thursday and Friday. The fighting was an indication that the Taliban's operations have continued to spread out in response to the continuing military operation in the nearby North Waziristan region, which had long been the most concentrated center of militant power in Pakistan.
Just across the border, in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, the international military coalition carried out airstrikes that killed at least five militants. A Western official briefed on the strikes, but speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said that the operation was directly targeting elements of the Pakistani Taliban that were thought to have aided in the Peshawar school killings.
After the school attack, senior Afghan and Pakistani officials reaffirmed their commitment to work together against the Pakistani Taliban on both sides of the border. Militant hide-outs in the rugged and remote Pashtun tribal areas that span both countries have long been a point of tension, with Afghanistan and Pakistan each accusing the other of sheltering militant proxies.
The massacre in Peshawar has prompted a public outpouring of grief in Pakistan, along with calls for tougher action against militants.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the headquarters of the Pakistani Army in Rawalpindi on Friday for a briefing on the security situation. And the army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, traveled to the Khyber agency as the military offensive picked up there.
Just two days after the prime minister reinstated the death penalty in Pakistan, the government announced its first two executions in years. Two men identified as senior militants were hanged at the prison in the city of Faisalabad, the officials said, even as human rights advocates expressed concerns about potential legal abuses in the name of counterterrorism efforts.
Pakistani officials also reported the arrest of at least four people in Punjab Province in connection with the school attacks, though few details were given about their possible roles. The Dawn newspaper reported  on its website that the suspects were connected to at least one of the cellphone SIM cards used by the gunmen during the attack.
The military action in the Khyber agency over the past two days was concentrated in the Tirah Valley, near the border, but it involved several different clashes, officials said.
Shahab Ali Shah, an administration official in the tribal region, said that security forces had raided one area of the Khyber agency after receiving a tip from intelligence officials.
In a separate battle, military and civil administration officials said, security forces had beaten back an attack by militants late Thursday night.
"After an hourlong battle, the attack was repulsed," Mr. Shah said. "Eighteen militants were killed. Their bodies have been shifted to a local hospital for identification."
The military said that an additional 32 militants were killed when security forces attacked them in two separate ambushes as they were moving toward the border. Three members of the security forces were also wounded in the exchange of fire, said a statement by Inter-Services Public Relations, the communications wing of the Pakistani military.
Azam Ahmed contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan.