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'50 militants, soldier killed in Pak clashes'

Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships and artillery have killed more than 50 Islamist militants in a two-day offensive near the troubled northwestern city of Peshawar.

world Updated: Sep 23, 2008 15:24 IST

Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships and artillery have killed more than 50 Islamist militants in a two-day offensive near the troubled northwestern city of Peshawar, the army said.

A soldier was also slain in the operation to clear extremist fighters from a strategic road tunnel and other hideouts in the troubled region of Dara Adam Khel, said army spokesman Major Murad Khan.

The operation comes days after the deadly bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and amid US pressure for Pakistan to crack down on Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels based near the Afghan border.

"Helicopter gunships and artillery are pounding the miscreants' hideouts. More than 50 miscreants have been killed and one soldier was also martyred," Khan told AFP.

Security forces on Monday launched "search and cordon" operations in the lawless area, which is home to Pakistan's biggest private weapons market, Khan said.

Troops on Monday took control of the Japanese-built Kohat tunnel, a key road leading out of Peshawar that was occupied by militants last month, Khan added.

Officials said earlier that a separate military operation in the troubled tribal region of Bajaur had left 10 militants dead.