Pakistan forces today faced "stiff resistance" while advancing towards a key Taliban stronghold in Swat valley where they killed at least 21 rebels, even as army rescued 80 students and staff members of a cadet college kidnapped by the militants in the restive tribal belt.
Troops continued their push towards the Taliban stronghold of Charbagh after clearing Jangle Tekri and the area up to Sara China. They also secured Alam Gunj, Waliabad and Gulibagh located north of Charbagh, the military said. One soldier was killed and four were injured due to the "stiff resistance" put up by the militants, the military said.
Fourteen militants were killed and 18 apprehended during the operations in Charbagh and Alam Gunj areas. Two more were killed in exchange of fire when troops launched an operation at Kot and cleared Khairabad and Sarsanai near Charbagh.
In nearby Shangla district, five militants and two soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire. Two soldiers were also injured in the same clash.
The troops began their push towards Charbagh after capturing Mingora, the main city of Swat district, last week. The military said normalcy was returning to Mingora and efforts were underway for restoring services in the city.
Meanwhile, a hostage drama in the restive Waziristan tribal region ended after army rescued 71 students and nine staff members of the Razmak Cadet College following a gun battle with the Taliban at Ghariom.