13 militants killed in Pakistan, NATO supply convoy hijacked (Lead)

November 11th, 2008 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Nov 11 (DPA) At least 13 Islamic militants were killed in clashes with government troops in north-west Pakistan while Taliban gunmen seized a convoy of trucks carrying military vehicles and supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan, security officials said Tuesday.Dozens of masked militants blocked a highway Monday in the Khyber tribal area, which lies on the Afghan border, and hijacked a dozen trucks ferrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

One of the trucks was carrying two armoured Humvees, which militants were later seen driving in the district’s Jamrud area, a local security official said.

They also hoisted banners of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the umbrella organization of several groups of Taliban militants in tribal areas and neighbouring North-West Frontier Province.

After the assault, Pakistan Army helicopter gunships targeted rebel position in the area. A schoolboy and six civilians were reported injured in the attack.

Five insurgents, including their commander, were killed in a gunfight that broke out late Monday when the militants opened fire on security forces during a search operation in the Matta area of the restive Swat district, said Colonel Nadeem Ahmad, an army spokesman in the area.

The troops also destroyed a militant ammunition dump in the fighting that left several rebels injured in the North-West Frontier Province, which is adjacent to Pakistan’s tribal areas, he said.

Two more militants were killed in the Kabal subdistrict in clashes with troops.

The Swat Valley was a popular tourist destination until late last year when radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah launched an armed struggle to enforce Taliban-style Islamic rule in the region.

Hundreds of people, including dozens of security personnel and civilians, have died in the yearlong conflict.

In a separate incident, Pakistani soldiers targeted several militant hideouts in the Bajaur tribal district, which is considered a safe haven for Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters launching cross-border attacks on US forces in the Afghan province of Kunar.

“The artillery fire that started Monday night and continued until early Tuesday killed at least six insurgents,” said a security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Ten of their compounds, including underground bunkers, were also destroyed, he added.

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