Pakistan: 77 militants killed after school massacre

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Anger Against Taliban Mounts After Pakistan School Attack
ISLAMABAD (AP) - Pakistani warplanes and ground forces killed at least 77 militants in a northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said Friday, days after Taliban fighters killed 148 people - most of them children - in a school massacre.

Meanwhile, a Pakistani prosecutor said the government will try to cancel the bail granted to the main suspect in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks - a decision that outraged neighboring India and called into question Pakistan's commitment to fighting militancy.

The violence at a school in Pakistan's northwest earlier this week stunned the country and brought cries for retribution. In the wake of the mass killing the military has struck targets in the Khyber tribal region and approved the death penalty for six convicted terrorists.

The military said its ground forces late Thursday killed 10 militants while airstrikes killed another 17, including an Uzbek commander. Another 32 alleged terrorists were killed by security forces in an ambush in Tirah valley in Khyber on Friday as they headed toward the Afghan border, the military said.

On Friday morning, troops killed 18 more militants during a "cordon and search operation" in Khyber, the military said.

The military said the army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, was traveling to Khyber Friday to meet with troops taking part in the ground operation.

Khyber agency is one of two main areas in the northwest where the military has been trying to root out militants in recent months. Khyber borders Peshawar, where the school massacre happened, and militants have traditionally attacked the city before withdrawing to the tribal region where police can't chase them.

The other area is North Waziristan, where the military launched a massive operation in June.

In the southern province of Baluchistan, Pakistani security forces killed a senior Pakistani Taliban leader along with seven of his associates in three separate pre-dawn raids, said a tribal police officer, Ali Ahmed.

The Pakistani army chief late Thursday signed the death warrants of six "hard core terrorists" convicted and sentenced to death by military courts, the army said.

It was unclear when the military planned to hang the six men, but authorities generally move quickly once death warrants are signed. Such executions are usually carried out at prisons under the supervision of army officers and then the bodies are handed over to relatives for burial.

There was no information on the men or the crimes for which they were convicted.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday announced that he would lift a moratorium on executions in terrorism-related cases. The government has not yet carried out any executions.

The lifting of the moratorium was aimed at demonstrating the government's resolve. But the decision by an anti-terrorism court on Thursday to grant bail to the main suspect in the Mumbai attacks, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, called into question that commitment.

Lakhvi is one of seven people on trial in Pakistan for the assault, but the trial has produced no results so far. It has been closed to the media.

India reacted with outrage to news of Lakhvi's pending release.

Special public prosecutor Abu Zar Peerzada said he would appeal to the High Court to cancel the bail and said Lakhvi had not yet been released.

__

Associated Press writer Rebecca Santana contributed to this report.

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Pakistan: 77 militants killed after school massacre
KARACHI, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: A boy from Pakistani political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) prays as he attends a candle vigil in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014 in memory of the victims of the Taliban assault on an army-run school in the north western city of Peshawar. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 141 people dead, most of whom students. (Photo by Qaisar Khan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Indian schoolchildren pray during an assembly at their school in New Delhi on December 17, 2014, as they pay tribute to slain Pakistani schoolchildren and staff after an attack on an army-run school in the restive city of Peshawar. Pakistan began three days of mourning on December 17 for the 132 schoolchildren and nine staff killed by the Taliban in the country's deadliest ever terror attack as the world united in a chorus of revulsion. The 141 people were killed when insurgents stormed an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and systematically went from room to room shooting children during an eight-hour killing spree. AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian schoolchildren prepare lighted candles ahead of a vigil in the northern city of Jalandhar late December 16, 2014, as they pay tribute to slain Pakistani schoolchildren and staff after an attack on an army school in the restive city of Peshawar. Pakistan began three days of mourning on December 17, for the 132 schoolchildren and nine staff killed by the Taliban in the country's deadliest ever terror attack as the world united in a chorus of revulsion. The 141 people were killed when insurgents stormed an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Tuesday and systematically went from room to room shooting children during an eight-hour killing spree. AFP PHOTO/SHAMMI MEHRA (Photo credit should read SHAMMI MEHRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian schoolchildren pray at their school in Mumbai on December 17, 2014, in memory of schoolchildren killed during an attack on an army school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar by armed Taliban terrorists. Schools across India have observed a 2 minute silence as called for by prime minister Narendra Modi in memory of those killed in the attacks. AFP PHOTO/INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: Children from Pakistani political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) pray as they attend a candle vigil in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014 in memory of the victims of the Taliban assault on an army-run school in the north western city of Peshawar. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 141 people dead, most of whom students. (Photo by Qaisar Khan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Indian schoolchildren pray during an assembly at their school in New Delhi on December 17, 2014, as they pay tribute to slain Pakistani schoolchildren and staff after an attack on an army-run school in the restive city of Peshawar. Pakistan began three days of mourning on December 17 for the 132 schoolchildren and nine staff killed by the Taliban in the country's deadliest ever terror attack as the world united in a chorus of revulsion. The 141 people were killed when insurgents stormed an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and systematically went from room to room shooting children during an eight-hour killing spree. AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A teacher walks past a blackboard adorned with a message from Indian schoolchildren at their school in Mumbai on December 17, 2014, in memory of schoolchildren killed during an attack on an army school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar by armed Taliban terrorists. Schools across India have observed a 2 minute silence as called for by prime minister Narendra Modi in memory of those killed in the attacks. AFP PHOTO/INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: Members of Pakistani political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) hold candle vigil in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014 in memory of the victims of the Taliban assault on an army-run school in the north western city of Peshawar. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 141 people dead, most of whom students. (Photo by Qaisar Khan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Pakistani mourners gather around the coffin of a victim of an attack by militants on an army-run school during a funeral ceremony in Peshawar on December 17, 2014. Militants rampaged through an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and killed at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in the bloodiest ever terror attack in Pakistan. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEED (Photo credit should read A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani mourners carry the coffin of a victim of an attack by militants on an army-run school during a funeral ceremony in Peshawar on December 17, 2014. Militants rampaged through an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and killed at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in the bloodiest ever terror attack in Pakistan. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEED (Photo credit should read A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani mourners carry the coffin of a victim of an attack by militants on an army-run school during a funeral ceremony in Peshawar on December 17, 2014. Militants rampaged through an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and killed at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in the bloodiest ever terror attack in Pakistan. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEED (Photo credit should read A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian schoolchildren pray during morning assembly at their school in Shimla on December 17, 2014, as they pay tribute to slain Pakistani schoolchildren and staff after an attack on an army school in the restive city of Peshawar. Pakistan began three days of mourning on December 17, for the 132 schoolchildren and nine staff killed by the Taliban in the country's deadliest ever terror attack as the world united in a chorus of revulsion. The 141 people were killed when insurgents stormed an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and systematically went from room to room shooting children during an eight-hour killing spree. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian schoolchildren pray during an assembly at their school in New Delhi on December 17, 2014, as they pay tribute to slain Pakistani schoolchildren and staff after an attack on an army-run school in the restive city of Peshawar. Pakistan began three days of mourning on December 17 for the 132 schoolchildren and nine staff killed by the Taliban in the country's deadliest ever terror attack as the world united in a chorus of revulsion. The 141 people were killed when insurgents stormed an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and systematically went from room to room shooting children during an eight-hour killing spree. AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian schoolchildren pray during an assembly at their school in New Delhi on December 17, 2014, as they pay tribute to slain Pakistani schoolchildren and staff after an attack on an army-run school in the restive city of Peshawar. Pakistan began three days of mourning on December 17 for the 132 schoolchildren and nine staff killed by the Taliban in the country's deadliest ever terror attack as the world united in a chorus of revulsion. The 141 people were killed when insurgents stormed an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and systematically went from room to room shooting children during an eight-hour killing spree. AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani mourners carry the coffin of a victim of an attack by militants on an army-run school during a funeral ceremony in Peshawar on December 17, 2014. Militants rampaged through an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and killed at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in the bloodiest ever terror attack in Pakistan. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEED (Photo credit should read A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)
A Pakistani resident reads the front pages of a selection of the country's main newspapers reporting a militant attack on an army-run school in Karachi on December 17, 2014. Militants rampaged through an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and killed at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in the bloodiest ever terror attack in Pakistan. AFP PHOTO / Rizwan TABASSUM (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)
A Pakistani resident reads the front pages of a selection of the country's main newspapers reporting a militant attack on an army-run school in Karachi on December 17, 2014. Militants rampaged through an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and killed at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in the bloodiest ever terror attack in Pakistan. AFP PHOTO / Rizwan TABASSUM (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)
A Pakistani resident reads the front pages of a selection of the country's main newspapers reporting a militant attack on an army-run school in Karachi on December 17, 2014. Militants rampaged through an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and killed at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in the bloodiest ever terror attack in Pakistan. AFP PHOTO / Rizwan TABASSUM (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani army soldiers patrol in Peshawar on December 17, 2014, the day after an attack on an army school in the northern city. Pakistan has begun three days of mourning for the 132 schoolchildren and nine staff killed by the Taliban in the country's deadliest ever terror attack as the world united in a chorus of revulsion. The 141 people were killed when insurgents stormed an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Tuesday and systematically went from room to room shooting children during an eight-hour killing spree. AFP PHOTO / Farooq NAEEM (Photo credit should read FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian schoolchildren pray at their school in Mumbai on December 17, 2014, in memory of schoolchildren killed during an attack on an army school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar by armed Taliban terrorists. Schools across India have observed a 2 minute silence as called for by prime minister Narendra Modi in memory of those killed in the attacks. AFP PHOTO/INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani army soldiers use metal detectors to clear the area at an army run school a day after it was attacked by militants in Peshawar on December 17, 2014. Militants rampaged through an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and killed at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in the bloodiest ever terror attack in Pakistan. AFP PHOTO / Farooq NAEEM (Photo credit should read FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian schoolchildren pray at their school in Mumbai on December 17, 2014, in memory of schoolchildren killed during an attack on an army school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar by armed Taliban terrorists. Schools across India have observed a 2 minute silence as called for by prime minister Narendra Modi in memory of those killed in the attacks. AFP PHOTO/INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
KARACHI, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: Members of Pakistani political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) hold candle vigil in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014 in memory of the victims of the Taliban assault on an army-run school in the north western city of Peshawar. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 141 people dead, most of whom students. (Photo by Qaisar Khan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The Taliban in Pakistan claimed responsibility for attacking a military-run public school. Dozens were killed and dozens more injured.
Pakistani mourners pray over the coffin of a student following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. Taliban insurgents stormed an army-run school in Pakistan, killing at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in Pakistan's bloodiest ever terror attack. Survivors described how the militants went from room to room shooting children as young as 12 during the eight-hour onslaught at the Army Public School in the northwestern city of Peshawar. AFP PHOTO/ HASHAM AHMED (Photo credit should read HASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani mourners attend the funeral of a victim following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. Taliban insurgents stormed an army-run school in Pakistan, killing at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in Pakistan's bloodiest ever terror attack. Survivors described how the militants went from room to room shooting children as young as 12 during the eight-hour onslaught at the Army Public School in the northwestern city of Peshawar. AFP PHOTO/ HASHAM AHMED (Photo credit should read HASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani female activists of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) light candles for the victims of an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar, in Karachi on December 16, 2014. Taliban insurgents killed at least 141 people, almost all of them children, after storming an army-run school in Pakistan's bloodiest ever terror attack. AFP PHOTO / Rizwan TABASSUM (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: A Pakistani student injured when Taliban gunmen stormed a military school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, is carried to the hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 130 people dead, most of them students. (Photo by Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Pakistani Muslims carry the coffin of a victim of a school attack during a funeral procession in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. Taliban insurgents stormed an army-run school in Pakistan, killing at least 141 people, almost all of them children, in Pakistan's bloodiest ever terror attack. AFP PHOTO / HASHAM AHMED (Photo credit should read HASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images)
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: Pakistani soldiers take position near the site of an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 100 people dead, most of them students. (Photo by Khan Raziq/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: Pakistani soldier takes position near the site of an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 100 people dead, most of them students. (Photo by Khan Raziq/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: Pakistani soldiers shift bodies of the victims who were killed when Taliban gunmen attacked an Army run school, in Peshawar, Pakistan on December 16, 2014. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left more than 100 people dead. (Photo by Khan Raziq/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: Pakistanis carry the coffin of a student killed when Taliban gunmen stormed a military school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left more than 100 people dead. (Photo by Khan Raziq/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
An injured Pakistani student lies in bed at a hospital following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. Taliban insurgents killed at least 130 people, most of them children, after storming an army-run school in Pakistan December 16 in one of the country's bloodiest attacks in recent years. AFP PHOTO/ A MAJEED (Photo credit should read A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani men help an injured student to a hospital following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. Taliban insurgents killed at least 130 people, most of them children, after storming an army-run school in Pakistan December 16 in one of the country's bloodiest attacks in recent years. AFP PHOTO/ A MAJEED (Photo credit should read A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: Pakistani soldier takes position near the site of an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 100 people dead, most of them students. (Photo by Khan Raziq/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: Pakistani soldiers take position near the site of an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 100 people dead, most of them students. (Photo by Khan Raziq/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: A view of the entrance of school attacked by Taliban gunmen in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 100 people dead, most of them students. (Photo by Khan Raziq/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 16: Pakistani soldiers stand guard near the site of an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 16, 2014. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 100 people dead, most of them students. (Photo by Khan Raziq/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Pakistani parents react near the site of an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. At least 130 people were killed in a Taliban attack on an army-run school in northwest Pakistan, officials said. AFP PHOTO/ A MAJEED (Photo credit should read A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani men carry an injured student to a hospital following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. At least 130 people were killed in a Taliban attack on an army-run school in northwest Pakistan, officials said. AFP PHOTO/ A MAJEED (Photo credit should read A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)
This screengrab taken from AFP footage shows a child (lower) receiving treatment at a hospital following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. A Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on December 16 has left more than 100 people dead, most of them students, officials said. AFP PHOTO / Aftab Ahmed (Photo credit should read Aftab Ahmed/AFP/Getty Images)
This screengrab taken from AFP footage shows a child reacting at a hospital following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. A Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on December 16 has left more than 100 people dead, most of them students, officials said. AFP PHOTO / Aftab Ahmed (Photo credit should read Aftab Ahmed/AFP/Getty Images)
This screengrab taken from AFP footage shows a child receiving treatment at a hospital following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. A Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on December 16 has left more than 100 people dead, most of them students, officials said. AFP PHOTO / Aftab Ahmed (Photo credit should read Aftab Ahmed/AFP/Getty Images)
This screengrab taken from AFP footage shows a man reacting as children receive treatment at a hospital following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. A Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on December 16 has left more than 100 people dead, most of them students, officials said. AFP PHOTO / Aftab Ahmed (Photo credit should read Aftab Ahmed/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani men carry an injured school girl to a hospital following an attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. At least 130 people were killed in a Taliban attack on an army-run school in northwest Pakistan, officials said. AFP PHOTO/ A MAJEED (Photo credit should read A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)
JUST IN:12 school children killed in terror attack in #Pakistan's Peshawar till now | hundreds taken into hostage http://t.co/iymzvOWtNa
#Taliban storm army-run school in #Pakistan, 20 dead http://t.co/TgMlWe1Gxf http://t.co/J1RD1BFUKR
Fighters attack military-run school in city of #Peshawar in northwest #Pakistan, taking students hostage: officials http://t.co/T1wM2wU34i
17 school kids,one teacher killed in terror attack in army-run school in #Pakistan's Peshawar |hundreds held hostage http://t.co/ziXhyO8rM7
#Peshawar: #Taliban militants storm Pak army-run school; at least 20 children dead http://t.co/doFao4cVUJ http://t.co/3WFebkKpQh
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