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40 militants, eight soldiers killed in Pak

At least 40 Islamist militants and eight soldiers were killed in an ongoing military operation in Pakistan's restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan, says the Army.

world Updated: Jan 24, 2008 13:55 IST
DPA

At least 40 Islamist militants and eight soldiers were killed in an ongoing military operation in Pakistan's restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan, the Army said on Thursday in a statement.

"Security forces have carried out operations in the areas of Spinkai Raghazai, Nawazkot and surrounding areas of Tiarza in South Waziristan tribal district," the statement said.

"These areas have been cleared of militants' strongholds and hideouts. Reportedly, 40 miscreants have been killed and 30 have been apprehended while many were injured," it said.

Eight security personnel were killed and 32 were wounded in the offensive that is mainly targeting the followers of a pro-Taliban commander, Baitullah Mehsud.

He has been blamed for the murder of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto in a gun and suicide bombing attack in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on December 27.

The operation is being carried out by hundreds of troops that are backed by tanks, heavy artillery and helicopter gunships.

"The action will continue until the region is cleared of the militants' hideouts," the army's chief spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told DPA on Wednesday.

South Waziristan is a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters carrying out cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan with the support of Mehsud.

Mehsud heads Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan), an alliance of more than 30 groups of Islamic militants in the tribal region and is also believed to be behind a bombing campaign in Pakistan that left more 700 people dead in 2007.