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20 militants killed in NWFP

Pakistani combat jets and helicopter gunships destroyed a major Taliban militant base killing twenty militants in the country's restive Swat valley in North West Frontier Province.

world Updated: Oct 09, 2008 18:22 IST

Pakistani combat jets and helicopter gunships on Wednesday destroyed a major Taliban militant base killing twenty militants in the country's restive Swat valley in North West Frontier Province.

Army officials said the fresh offensive was aimed at destroying militant bases in the Taliban stronghold of Matta.

Local residents said the jets bombed militant positions in Peochar, Shawar and Landai Sar, which are considered strong bases of the Taliban.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said bombs dropped by the jets caused casualties among the militants and had also destroyed houses. The army said 20 militants were killed in the air strikes in Matta area of Swat.

Shells fired by the security forces landed on two homes, killing nine civilians. In one incident, five members of the same family were killed, the residents said.

A majority of people in Matta sub-district have already fled their homes and only 10 per cent of the original population, considered to be militants or their supporters, were in the area when the forces launched the bombardment.

The bombing damaged communications and electricity supply networks, residents said.

The fresh offensive came a day after top security officials briefed lawmakers on the security situation and the war on terrorism during a joint session of parliament. The session will continue for the next few days.

Several parliamentarians were not satisfied over ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha's briefing yesterday and raised questioned as to who had allowed US forces to conduct air strikes in the tribal regions and why Pakistan has been pushed into a "state of war