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41 militants killed in NW offensive: Pak army

world Updated: Jun 13, 2009 19:56 IST
AFP
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Pakistani troops killed 41 militants in their offensive against the Taliban in the northwest while jets bombed insurgent hideouts in response to two suicide attacks, the military said on Saturday.

"During last 24 hours, 41 terrorists were killed and two were apprehended in various areas of Malakand and Bannu (districts)," it said in a statement.

One soldier was killed and seven others were wounded in the fighting, it said.

Vocal anti-Taliban religious scholar Sarfraz Naeemi was killed Friday in a suicide bombing at his office, while another bombing at a mosque in northwestern Nowshera town killed four others.

The military said Pakistan Air Force jets bombed two militant hideouts in South Waziristan tribal district after the Lahore suicide attack was claimed by the Taliban umbrella group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) based there.

"In response to suicide attack... two terrorists' compounds were targeted by PAF in Makeen, South Waziristan. The number of casualties could not be ascertained," it said.

In Bannu, security forces had secured Zindi Akbar Khan village, a paramilitary fort in Jani Khel village and the area up to Marwat Canal, it said.

"During operation 35 terrorists were killed," the statement said and added that the area was being used as a base for conducting "criminal and terrorist" activities in other Pakistani towns and cities.

Six more militants were killed when they raided a security forces camp in northwestern Swat valley. One soldier also died and four were wounded in the attack, the military said.

The death tolls could not be verified by independent sources as the areas are under military operations.

The campaign in and around Swat was launched under US pressure after Taliban fighters advanced to within 100 kilometres (60 miles) of Islamabad, breaking a deal to put three million people under sharia law in exchange for peace.

Pakistan's tribal zones harbour Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels who fled the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, and Washington has said militants are using the lawless areas to regroup and plan attacks on the West.

Taliban-linked attacks have killed more than 1,960 people in Pakistan since July 2007.

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