Making their first contact with fighters of Tehrik-e-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in a new offensive in Pakistan's South Waziristan region, army troops killed 50 militants in an aerial and artillery bombardment.
Fresh fierce clashes were also reported today between security forces and rebels in Bajaur and Mohmand tribal areas
close to the border with Afghanistan.
Pakistani fighter jets and attack helicopters pounded militant hideouts in South Waziristan killing 50 Taliban fighters during the past 24 hours, military officials were quoted as saying by the Dawn news channel.
These were the first known casualties among Mehsud's fighters in South Waziristan, where the al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his outfit's other top commanders and Taliban leaders are believed to be holed up.
The strikes were conducted after ground forces supported by tanks moved into areas dominated by the Mehsud tribe. Columns of troops were seen moving from Wana, the main town in South Waziristan Agency, to Madijan, an area adjoining the Mehsud territory.
But, officials said the action did not herald the start of a full-scale operation on Waziristan, where the army has
completed its deployment and is occupying strategic positions.