25 killed in Pakistan violence (Lead)

August 15th, 2009 - 9:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, Aug 15 (DPA) At least 25 people, including four soldiers, were killed in attacks and clashes across Pakistan’s restive northwestern region, army and intelligence officials said Saturday.
Three army personnel died when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a security check post in Swat, where the army had launched an operation against militants in late April.

“An explosived-laden vehicle collided with a security forces checkpost at Wali Abad near Charbagh, resulting in three soldiers being killed,” the army said. The army claimed that it also “killed eight terrorists” at Deari near Kanju in Swat.

It was the first suicide attack since the army last month claimed victory against the Taliban and announced that the command and control system of militants had been destroyed and dozens of their suicide bombers had either been arrested or killed.

The violence came the day after Pakistan celebrated Independence Day.

Clashes also occurred between Afghan border guards and Pakistani troops in the Angoor Adda area of South Waziristan, leaving one soldier and three civilians dead. The civilians included a man and two women.

Intelligence officials said that Afghan troops fired mortars which hit a Pakistani border post, leading to exchange of fire that continued at least for two hours. They said 12 soldiers were also injured in the incident.

The Afghan and Pakistani troops periodically clash, as the 2,400 km porous border is poorly demarcated and troops patrolling along the frontier usually wander inadvertantly to the other side.

Intelligence officials also said five Taliban militants affiliated to Baitullah Mehsud were killed when fighter jets of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pounded their positions in Makeen area of South Waziristan.

The area is controlled by the militants of Mehsud, who was reportedly killed in a US drone attack last week. The security forces frequently resort to aerial power to target key areas of the militants, which are otherwise out of reach of the authorities.

Also, the factional fighting continued between Taliban loyal to Mehsud and militant supporters of Turkestan Bhittani, who is also backed by the government.

In the latest clash, one supporter of Bhittani was killed and another injured when Taliban attacked their offices in Tank, a town bordering South Waziristan. The security forces also defused two bombs in the area.

Separately, four bodies of Taliban militants were recovered in Kariwam area. It is believed that they were killed by Bhittanis, who have also traditional tribal rivalry with Mehsud tribe, and are using the prevailing anti-Mehsud sentiments to settle old scores.

The latest violence occurred just a day after Pakistan, created Aug 14, 1947, celebrated its 63rd Independence Day.

President Asif Ali Zardari, on the occasion, announced major political reform in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, hoping it would reduce support for the Taliban.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, also on the occasion, praised the country’s armed forces for their recent success against militants in Swat and vowed to defeat militancy.

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