Pakistani troops secured a key Taliban stronghold killing at least 80 militants in fierce fighting as they engaged the insurgents in street battles in towns and villages in the troubled northwestern Swat valley and nearby areas on Wednesday.
Security forces occupied Sultanwas village in Buner district, which had been taken over by the Taliban last month, after ferocious skirmishes last night. At least 80 militants and one soldier were killed in the fighting while nine security personnel were injured.
The capture of Sultanwas was significant as the Taliban occupied the village after crushing resistance offered by local residents by mounting a suicide attack, chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas told a news briefing.
The troops destroyed six vehicles being used by militants and defused improvised explosive devices while advancing into Sultanwas. The Taliban had built concrete bunkers underground and around houses in the village and were also using the uniforms and vehicles of an elite police force, Abbas said.
Troops were also engaging militants in several parts of Swat, including the remote Peochar valley where local Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah and his fighters are believed to be hiding. Security forces are conducting search and destroy operations in Peochar, Abbas said.
Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani reviewed the progress of the military operation at a high-level meet.