40 militants, two soldiers killed in Pakistan clashes

September 13th, 2008 - 1:43 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Sep 13 (DPA) Clashes in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas along the Afghan border Friday left at least 40 rebels and two soldiers dead, officials said.Thousands of troops - backed by gunship helicopters, tanks and artillery fire - targeted several militant position in the Tang Khata, Rashkai and Khazana areas of Bajaur tribal district, a known sanctuary of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, who launch cross-border attacks on the US-led international forces in Afghanistan.

“According to initial reports, about 40 insurgents died while two soldiers were martyred in the action,” army spokesman Major Murad Khan said.

One dozen more soldiers were injured in the firefights that continued for several hours, he said.

The fresh clashes came a day after severe fighting, which destroyed the insurgents’ command and control system, killed nearly 100 militants in the same district.

This increased the Taliban fighters’ death toll to around 700 in the clashes that erupted last month when Islamabad dispatched troops to the region to eliminate Taliban hide-outs.

But the military operation has also triggered an exodus from Bajaur to safer areas in the adjoining North West Frontier Province. More than 200,000 people have so far migrated from the conflict zone, according to official figures.

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