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Pak crackdown on Taliban, 62 militants killed

world Updated: May 06, 2009 23:55 IST

PTI
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Widening its crackdown on Taliban, Pakistan Army on Wednesday attacked militants with helicopter gunships and tanks, as troops rolled in to wrest control of the restive Swat valley killing 62 extremists in one of the most bloodiest fightings.

While 35 Taliban fighters were killed as troops, under heavy tank fire cover, engaged the militants in street fighting in Mingora and took control of Emerald Mines, which Taliban were exploiting to enrich their coffers, a military spokesman said.

Heavy fighting also raged in the nearby Buner district where troops blasted Taliban fortifications in Pir Baba and Sultanwas areas killing 27 militants.

Shells and rockets landed on Mingora, the main town in the valley, where Taliban seized all major government buildings, including that of the local mayor and DIG of Police, and mined all thoroughfares in anticipation of a land assault.

Troops took control of the Emerald Mines, which witnessed some of the heaviest fighting, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told reporters. "35 militants were killed near the Emerald Mines," he said.

The offensive sounded a death-knell for the controversial peace deal and triggered a massive exodus from Mingora and other towns with thousands of people fleeing the area after authorities asked them to do so.