19 killed in violence in northwest Pakistan

October 22nd, 2008 - 1:13 am ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Oct 21 (DPA) At least 19 people, including three soldiers and 14 militants, were killed Tuesday in fresh clashes in northwest Pakistan, security officials said.A roadside bomb targeted a security convoy in Kabal area of Swat valley in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), killing three security forces members and injuring several, a local official said.

The official who spoke on condition of anonymity said three vehicles of the security forces were also destroyed in the attack.

The residents said the government forces pounded suspected militants’ position following the incident and some stray rounds hit a residential area killing at least two civilians and injuring five.

Pakistani forces are carrying our offensive since October 2007 in Swat valley, formerly a popular tourist destination, against a radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah, whose heavily-armed followers have waged an armed campaign to enforce Taliban rule in the area.

Separately, Pakistani jet planes and helicopter gunships targeted militants’ hideouts in neighbouring Bajaur tribal district, which is believed to have sanctuaries of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters launching cross border attacks on US-led international forces in Afghanistan.

“Around a dozen miscreants were also injured in the strikes,” said a security official.

The Pakistan Army launched an operation in Bajaur in early August this year to retake control over a strategically important hilltop along the route used by militants to provide supplies to their colleagues in Afghan province of Kunar.

The conflicts in Swat and Bajaur areas have displaced around 400,000 people, who have moved to safer places in NWFP and Afghanistan.

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