Fresh clashes kill 10 militants in PakistanSeptember 13th, 2008 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, Sep 13 (DPA) Pakistani troops Saturday killed up to 10 Islamic militants in fresh clashes with Taliban extremists along the Afghan border, a security official said.Helicopter gunships and artillery fire pounded militants’ positions in the Inayat Kaley, Rashkai, and Loi Sum areas of Bajaur district, a known sanctuary of Taliban and Al Qaeda militants for launching crossborder raids on international forces in Afghanistan.
“Between eight and 10 miscreants have died and numerous were injured in the operation during which several militants’ hideouts were destroyed,” said a local security official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Army spokesman Major Murad Khan confirmed that the militant’s positions were being engaged but their losses had yet to be ascertained.
Thousands of troops launched a major offensive in the district to clear the area of the rebels who had surrounded the district headquarters Khar.
According to official figures around 700 militants had so far been killed while the death toll on the side of government forces has reached dozens.
But the conflict has also caused a large number of civilian casualties - seldom reported as few journalists remain in the area - and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee to safer areas.
The fresh clashes came as Pakistan is under intensive pressure from Washington to carry out an all-out operation in the tribal areas.
Complaining about Pakistan’s inability to control militancy, the US has recently increased missile strikes mostly carried out by drones in border areas, including the latest on Friday that killed 12 people in North Waziristan.
This has strained Washington-Islamabad relations and stirred anger in Pakistan, which has vowed to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity at “all costs”.