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Airstrikes kill 30 militants in Pakistan

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Security forces strike after receiving a tip that militants were hiding in Shawal region
  • General: Many of the militants there are hiding in caves and heavily forested areas
  • The Shawal region is a rugged and mountainous area along the Afghan border
  • Police chief killed, eight injured in suicide attack in northwest Pakistan

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Thirty militants were killed in airstrikes targeting hideouts in Pakistan's tribal region Saturday, the Pakistan army's spokesman said.

Security forces launched the airstrikes after receiving a tip that militants were hiding in the Shawal region of South Waziristan, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said

The Shawal region is a rugged and mountainous area along the Afghan border where militants escaped to after the military launched its offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan last October, Abbas said.

Many of the militants are hiding in caves and heavily forested areas, according to Abbas, and local residents revealed the location of the militant hideout.

"It's a local intelligence network which is expanding in the area," Abbas said.

Abbas said many of the estimated 8,000 militants in South Waziristan when the offensive was launched are either on the run or are hiding.

"They have dispersed all over the place and around 700 have been killed," he said. "The militants from the heartland have come back to their own area. They're in disarray and disorganized."

Meanwhile, a police chief was killed and eight people injured when suicide bombers attacked police stations Saturday morning in northwest Pakistan, authorities said.

The first attack happened when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Balakot police station, said Malik Meerbaz Khan, Balakot administrative chief. A police chief was killed and three people were injured, authorities said.

Another attacker targeted a police station in the city of Mansehra, but police killed him before he detonated his jacket, according to Tasleem Khan, Mansehra district deputy administrative chief. At least five police officers were hospitalized when the attacker threw a hand grenade first.

"They neutralized him. They shot him in the head. Had they not done that, we could all imagine the casualties," Syed Imtiaz Altaf of the North West Frontier Province police told reporters in a televised news conference.

"These coward acts, they are not going to deter or in any way soften the resolve of the police. Every time the police sacrifice their lives, the resolve of the police gets stronger."

Both Balakot and Mansehra are in Mansehra district, which is 62 miles (100 km) north of the federal capital of Islamabad.

CNN's Kiran Khalid and journalist Umar Aziz contributed to this report.