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'25 Taliban, one soldier killed in Pak clashes'

world Updated: Aug 07, 2008 11:04 IST

AFP
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Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships killed 25 Taliban militants and a soldier died in a bomb blast as forces moved into a troubled tribal area, security officials said on Thursday.

Clashes erupted when paramilitary troops reoccupied a checkpost they had abandoned several months earlier in the Bajaur tribal zone bordering Afghanistan, a haven for Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, they said.

The operation comes amid mounting US pressure for Pakistan's fledgling democratic government to crack down on Islamist fighters in the rugged frontier region.

"At least 25 militants have died in the clashes in the Loisam area of Bajaur over the past 24 hours," a senior security official said on condition of anonymity.

A paramilitary trooper was killed and two wounded in a remote-controlled bomb blast as a convoy moved towards Loisam and three other soldiers were injured in the clashes, officials said.

A Taliban spokesman, Maulvi Omar, said that 15 soldiers had been killed in the clashes but added that he did not have details of militant casualties.

Officials said clashes erupted on Wednesday when paramilitary soldiers entered the checkpost, some 15 kilometres (10 miles) west of the region's main town in Khar.

Taliban militants resisted the move and attacked the post with rockets and automatic weapons, the officials said, adding that troops retaliated and helicopters pounded their suspected hideouts.