Government forces destroyed three militant bases and killed five insurgents on Tuesday in Pakistan’s northwestern border region, the military said.
Two militant commanders were among those killed in the dawn raids in the Khyber region, a statement from the Frontier Corps said. It said 25 suspected militants were captured in the operation, which was continuing.
The new fighting came days after a suicide bombing in Khyber killed 19 guards at a border crossing. The attack at the Torkham crossing, one of the few major gateways for supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan, was blamed on Pakistani Taliban militants who operate in the lawless tribal areas near the border.
Pakistan’s military has intensified its fight against the Taliban, who are believed to shelter Al-Qaida leaders in areas they control and help their Afghan allies plot attacks against Western troops across the border.
The US sees northwestern Pakistan as another front in the Afghan war, and Washington has been urging Pakistan to crack down on the Taliban in its territory.
But Pakistan’s government has only nominal control in the mountainous, ethnic Pashtun-dominated border areas such as Khyber and Waziristan, and it only recently ended Taliban control of the Swat Valley further east.
The militants have vowed revenge for the death last month of their leader, Baitullah Mehsud, in a US missile strike and for the army operation in Swat, where the extremists had imposed its harsh interpretation of Islam on residents.
The Taliban have been stepping up attacks in Pakistan. On Monday, the army said it had killed 45 militants in scattered operations across Swat to root out remaining Taliban after a suicide bomber killed 17 police cadets there on Sunday.