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Country at war, says Pakistan official

world Updated: Oct 03, 2008 23:47 IST

Pakistan’s war against Islamic extremists will go on until the country is “terrorism-free,” a senior official said after mounting violence prompted the UN to raise its security stance.

Pakistan is under intense US pressure to combat militants responsible for rising attacks at home and in neighboring Afghanistan.

Its faltering efforts so far have been met with a blur of suicide bombings that have killed nearly 1,200 people since July 2007, according to army statistics released this week.

In remarks broadcast on Friday, Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said the government was undaunted.

Previous Pakistani military campaigns against Islamic militants in the wild tribal belt along the Afghan frontier were halted too soon, he said, in an apparent reference to the policies of former President Pervez Musharraf.

Malik said the current government, which came to power after February elections and forced Musharraf to resign in July, will fight until militants are either killed or forced to flee Pakistan. “There is no other option,” Malik told Express News television. “We will not stop any operation unless we reach its logical conclusion. That means that this war will continue until we make Pakistan terrorism-free,” he said.

Pakistan’s army is battling militants in at least three areas of the northwest. The most intense fighting has been in the Bajur tribal region, where the military claims to have killed 1,000 rebels for the loss of about 60 troops.

Most recent suicide attacks have been in the northwest. A blast on Thursday killed four people in a failed bid to assassinate a prominent anti-Taliban politician in the region. There have also been several attacks in the capital, Islamabad, including the September 20 truck bombing of the Marriott Hotel, which killed 54 people, including three Americans and the Czech ambassador.