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Security forces kill five Taliban in Lower Dir

world Updated: May 29, 2009 14:27 IST

IANS
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Five Taliban militants were killed in a clash with security forces in Lower Dir in Pakistan's troubled northwest as the military operation against the rebels entered its 35th day on Friday.

Quoting sources, Geo TV said a clash erupted between security forces and militants in Kambar area of Lower Dir during ongoing operations in the Malakand division of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Security forces overnight pounded militant hideouts in different areas of Maidan sub-district, destroying several of them.

The security forces had also established checkpoints at Adeenzai, Chakdara, Gulabad and Talaash.

An Afghan national was arrested from Chakiatang area of Upper Dir for facilitating the militants, Geo said.

The Pakistani military went into action April 26 after the Taliban reneged on a controversial peace accord with the NWFP government and moved south from their Swat headquarters to occupy Buner, which is just 100 km from Islamabad.

The operations had begun from Lower Dir, the home district of Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad, who had brokered the peace deal and who is the father-in-law of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah, and then spread to Buner and Swat.

On Thursday, NWFP Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain created considerable confusion by claiming Fazlullah had been killed in the military operations and simultaneously announcing a Rs.4 million (approx $50,000) bounty on him.

The military says closer to 1,200 Taliban have been killed in the operations but there is no independent confirmation of this as the media has been barred from the combat zone.

The security forces have lost some 70 personnel.

The military operations have triggered the biggest and fastest civilian exodus in recent times.

The social welfare department of the NWFP has registered some 1.4 million refugees at its specially established camps but the UN estimates the number could be as high as 2.9 million as many of them could be staying with relatives and friends.

The UN estimates that close to $543 million would be required for the relief and rehabilitation of the refugees.