50 militants killed in Pakistan

August 28th, 2008 - 7:20 am ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 28 (DPA) At least 50 militants have been killed in clashes with Pakistani security forces near the Afghan border, officials said.”Artillery fire and helicopter gunships engaged a militants’ hideout in Raghan area of Bajaur district. At least 30 militants, including important local Taliban commanders and some foreign fighters were killed in the action,” Army spokesman Major Murad Khan Wednesday said.

He claimed seven more militants died in a separate overnight strike in Nowagai area of the district.

But the numbers were contradicted by the local security officials. “Altogether seven to eight people died in both strikes,” an official said, requesting anonymity.

Bajaur, which is close to the Afghan border, is a known safe haven for Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

Bajaur has seen deadly clashes since the military launched attacks on insurgents there last month. According to the government, more than 500 militants have been killed so far, but the claim could not be independently confirmed.

Dozens of soldiers have also died in the fighting.

The ongoing battles caused an exodus of more than 250,000 people to makeshift camps set up by the government and relief agencies in the adjoining North West Frontier Province.

In South Waziristan, 13 militants died when the security forces repelled an overnight attack on Tiarza Fort and Tiarza Bridge Check Post in the tribal district, Major Murad said.

Between 15 and 20 more insurgents were injured in the exchange of fire that continued Wednesday.

Pakistan is facing a resurgence of violence from militants who have their bases in the country’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Last week, two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of a military-run weapons’ factory, killing about 80 people and wounding 100 more. Most of the victims were civilians.

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