Schools blown up, 8 militants killed in Pakistan: official | world | Hindustan Times
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Schools blown up, 8 militants killed in Pakistan: official

world Updated: Feb 19, 2009 09:33 IST

Suspected Taliban fighters blew up two girls' schools on Wednesday while eight militants were killed in clashes with the military in northwest Pakistan, an official said.

The two primary schools were detonated in the Nawagai and Salarzai areas of Bajaur, where the Pakistani military has waged a massive offensive designed to clear the area of extremist Islamists.

"There was no loss of life in the twin attacks, as girls schools are closed in the region," said local government official Farooq Khan.

Militants have destroyed 30 schools, most of them for girls, in different areas of Bajaur since August 2008, Khan said.

Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt has become a stronghold for hundreds of extremists who fled Afghanistan after the US-led invasion toppled the hardline Taliban regime in late 2001.

On Wednesday, Khan said Pakistani government troops, backed by helicopter gunships, killed eight militants in battles with extremist rebels.

"Troops targeted rebel hideouts in an operation backed by fighter jets, helicopter gunships and artillery, killing eight militants and wounding five others," he told AFP.

Troops carried out the raid in response to rebel attacks on its forces in Khar, the main town of Bajaur, and elsewhere overnight.

Pakistan, accused by the United States of not doing enough to stop militants crossing the border to attack US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, says the Bajaur offensive is proof of its commitment to crushing insurgents.