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80 Taliban killed as Pak army moves ahead

world Updated: Jun 12, 2009 00:45 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times
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Pakistan’s war against Taliban on Thursday reached the edge of Waziristan, the suspected sanctuary of top commanders of Taliban and Al Qaeda, killing 80 militants as extremists made an abortive bid to assassinate a senior NWFP minister.

Fighting raged between the army and Taliban in south Waziristan, the main base of Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, as 400 militants attacked two military forts triggering fierce clashes that left 22 extremists and three soldiers dead.

“400 Taliban militants attacked Siplatoi and Jandola forts late last night in which three soldiers embraced shahdat (martyrdom) and five injured, while 22 militants were killed,” a military statement said.

Heavy fighting also raged in Bannu, Hangu and upper Dir, also on the fringes of Waziristan district, where attack helicopters and artillery pounded Taliban positions killing 34 militants and apprehending three.

Minister injured

A senior minister of the North West Frontier Province Mian Nisar Gul was wounded after suspected militants ambushed his car while he was travelling to the provincial capital Peshawar.

Three of his bodyguards were killed.

Three gunmen ambushed the car of Gul, who is the Prisons Minister, spraying the car with automatic fire. However, his car despite being hit managed to speed away, local police officials said.

The clashes in south Waziristan, a remote area bordering Afghanistan, came amidst speculation that the Pakistan army was poised to launch major offensive there on the footsteps of operations in Buner, Swat and Dir.