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Pakistan military prepares to hunt Taliban chief: army

Pakistan's military has received orders from the government and is preparing to launch an offensive against feared Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, the army spokesman said on Tuesday.

world Updated: Jun 16, 2009 17:22 IST

Pakistan's military has received orders from the government and is preparing to launch an offensive against feared Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, the army spokesman said on Tuesday.

Security forces are already locked in a seven-week campaign against insurgents in three northwest districts, and a governor late on Sunday announced a "full-fledged" second front along the mountainous and wild tribal belt.

"As you know the government has taken a principled decision to launch a military operation against Baitullah Mehsud and his network," military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told reporters in Islamabad.

"The army has received the requisite orders. Necessary steps and measures are being taken by the military in this regard."

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira added: "It has not been officially started."

North West Frontier Province governor Owais Ahmad Ghani late on Sunday vowed the government would pursue Mehsud into the semi-autonomous tribal belt on the Afghan border, blaming him for a string of recent deadly bomb attacks.

In a statement, the military also said that 13 suspected militants had been killed in the last 24 hours in the Swat valley operation, which was launched late April after Taliban rebels advanced towards Islamabad.