Security forces kill 35 Taliban in Pakistan’s northwest

June 14th, 2009 - 5:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, June 14 (IANS) Fighter jets and helicopter gunships were pressed into action as Pakistani security forces killed at least 35 Taliban in the country’s restive northwest Sunday, the military said.
The fighting in the Bannu district of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) came even as the security forces were consolidated their hold in Swat and two other districts to the north where the military is engaged in a major anti-Taliban operation that entered its 49th day Sunday.

The operations in Bannu had begun a week ago and on Sunday, the security forces made fresh gains in the Jani Khel and Bakal Khel areas of the district, killing 35 militants, Online news agency reported.

Almost the entire area of Jani Khel had been cleared of the militants.

The military began its operations April 26 after the Taliban reneged on a controversial peace deal with the NWFP government and instead moved south from their Swat headquarters and occupied Buner, which is just 100 km from Pakistani capital Islamabad.

The operations had begun in 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. They later spread to Buner and Lower Dir.

The military says it has largely secured Buner and Lower Dir districts and is now engaged in mopping up operations in Swat.

Buoyed by their successes, the military opened up a new front last week by going into action against the Taliban in Bunnu district and in the South Waziristan area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

To go by military figures, over 1,400 Taliban have been killed in the fighting. There is, however, no independent confirmation of this as the media has been barred from the battle zone.

Some three million civilians have been displaced from the three districts by the military operations.

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