ISLAMABAD, June 8 (Xinhua) -- An official of Pakistan's restive northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province Friday hinted at launching a military operation against the militants in North Waziristan tribal region.
The statement of Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Information Minister in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, came hours after a deadly bomb blast killed and injured dozens of people, all civilians.
According to the report by local Urdu TV channel Geo, at least 21 people were killed and over 40 others got injured in the bomb blast that targeted a bus carrying government employees in Pakistan's northwest city of Peshawar on Friday afternoon.
Hussain blamed militants for the blast and warned the security forces would launch a major operation against the militants in North Waziristan, which is considered the last major stronghold of Pakistani Taliban.
Top U.S. officials said that al-Qaeda remnants, the Haqqani Network and Afghan Taliban also operate in North Waziristan and plan cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.
U.S. Defense Secretary said in Kabul on Thursday that Washington is losing patience with Pakistan on the issue of militant safe havens on the Pakistani side of the border.
Panetta was referring to Waziristan tribal region as Washington is mounting pressure on Islamabad to act against militants there.
U.S. spy aircraft routinely fire missiles into the region to eliminate militants in North Waziristan, ignoring Pakistani calls to halt these attacks. "The security forces will soon launch a major operation in the last stronghold of the terrorists," Hussain said referring to North Waziristan. He did not mention timing for the operation but said it could be carried out in three months.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the blast which resulted in the loss of numerous lives, the PM office said.
The prime minister said that such cowardly terrorist act cannot weaken the resolve of the government to fight extremism and terrorism.
Gilani has asked the provincial administration to provide best medical treatment to those injured in the blast.
He has also expressed his sympathies with the families who had lost their dear ones.