Over 70 Taliban killed in Pakistan’s northwest

June 10th, 2009 - 4:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, June 10 (IANS) After making considerable headway against the Taliban in three districts of the country’s troubled northwest, the military has opened up another front in the Bannu district, killing some 70 militants in two days of fighting.
Quoting sources, Geo TV said more than 70 militants have been killed during two days of operation in Bannu’s Baka Khel and Jani Khel areas.

Security forces were patrolling Bannu, while helicopter gunships and heavy artillery continued their pounding of militants’ strongholds.

Curfew remained in force for the second day in Bannu city and security forces were patrolling in different areas.

The security forces had achieved major success Tuesday, blowing up the headquarters of Swat Taliban commander Fazlullah in Imam Dheri of the Peochar valley.

The building, which was completely destroyed in the attack, was used to collect funds for carrying out militancy in the area and also had a prison where the fate of those captured by the Taliban was decided, officials said.

The Pakistani military went into action April 26 after the Taliban reneged on a peace deal with the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government and instead moved south from their Swat headquarters and occupied Buner, which is just 100 km from Islamabad.

The operations had begun in Lower Dir and later spread to Buner, Swat and Bannu.

The military estimates that over 1,400 Taliban have so far been killed in the operations, which have claimed the lives of some 110 security personnel.

The fighting has spurred the largest and quickest refugee exodus in recent time, with some three million civilians streaming out of the four districts.

The UN estimates that some $543 million would be required for the relief and rehabilitation of the refugees. On Tuesday, the UN said it had received just $136 million of this, while another $15 million had been pledged.

The US, which has already pledged $110 million, has promised another $200 million. Pakistan has also received pledges of $244 million at an international donors conference in Islamabad in May.

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