55 militants killed in air and ground offensives in Pakistan | world | Hindustan Times
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55 militants killed in air and ground offensives in Pakistan

world Updated: May 16, 2010 21:34 IST
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In stepped up aerial strikes and ground offensive, at least 55 militants were killed in Pakistan's volatile northwest, and 35 others were arrested by security forces on Sunday.

Helicopter gunships pounded Taliban positions, targetting four rebel hideouts in Dabori, Wali Kamar, and Gujar Kalay areas, believed to be used for preparing for an attack on security forces.

Some 35 militants were killed in two rounds of shelling in the same areas, officials said.

Separately, 20 other militants were killed as clashes broke out between them and the security forces in upper parts of Orakzai agency.

"The forces also captured 25 ultras in injured condition while five security men were wounded in the gun battle," security sources told PTI.

Three explosive-laden vehicles and explosive materials loaded on six mules were also destroyed in today's gun battle, a security official said.

Seven hideouts of the militants were destroyed in the shelling.

The air strikes and ground offensives came as the Taliban insurgents freed 50 people kidnapped a day earlier in the adjoining Kurram tribal agency.

"All positions were engaged and destroyed effectively", said the security official on condition of anonymity.

Major Fazal ur Rehman, a spokesman of paramilitary Frontier Corps that is spearheading the offensive on Taliban and al Qaeda in the lawless tribal region, confirmed the attacks.

Pakistani troops moved into Orakzai in March to quell the insurgency.

The military claims that it has killed more than 700 militants, while losing 18 soldiers.

Meanwhile, Taliban militants freed 50 of the 60 people kidnapped yesterday from the adjoining Kurram district.

Sixty persons were kidnapped by dozens of militants who were dressed as policemen in Kurram yesterday.

Khalid Omarzai, Commisioner Kohat Division, said efforts were underway to gain the release of the other 10 people still held. Omarzai claimed the rebels released the captives unconditionally.

The military is also conducting an operation against militants in Kurram agency, which has been a scene of bloody clashes between Shiite and Sunni tribesmen as well as a rising Islamist insurgency.

Sunni tribesmen usually get support from the Taliban.