Pakistani jets pound Taliban hide-outs

PARACHINAR, Pakistan — Pakistani fighter jets pounded a series of Taliban hide-outs near the Afghan border Sunday, killing nine insurgents, a local official said.
The hide-outs were in the village of Mero Bak in the Taliban stronghold of the Lower Orakzai tribal region, said Rasheed Khan, an Orakzai official. One of the bombed houses belonged to a local Taliban commander, Aslam Farooqi, but it was not clear if he was among those killed.
Orakzai is the base of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, who officials believe was killed in a US missile strike early this year. The group insists he is alive, but has not provided any evidence to back up its claims.
Violence has surged in Pakistan in recent days as militants — thought to be part of a loose network of Islamist insurgents fighting the US-allied Islamabad government — launched a wave of suicide bombings. The attacks have killed 88 people in a little over a week.