31 militants, three troops killed in Pakistan

November 9th, 2008 - 4:21 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Nov 9 (DPA) At least 31 Islamic militants and three soldiers were killed in overnight clashes and airstrikes by government forcesin the restive north-west region of Pakistan, media reports said Sunday.The Taliban fighters fired on the security forces in the Shangwatai area of Swat district in North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) Saturday, triggering heavy fighting, the Daily News reported while citing a military spokesman.

Ten attackers disguised as government troops were killed in the crossfire and a score of more injured, while three soldiers from the paramilitary Frontier Corps lost their lives.

Five more Taliban died in the clashes that continued in several other parts of Swat, where the military is fighting the followers of radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who is trying to enforce Taliban rule in the region.

Separately, Pakistani warplanes and army helicopter gunships targeted several hideouts of militants in the remote Bajaur tribal district.

The authorities claimed that 16 militants were eliminated in the daylong bombing in Khar and Mamoond sub-districts Saturday.

The smoke could be seen billowing from villages that were also targeted with artillery fire, a local resident told The News.

Government forces launched a major offensive in Bajaur in early August to clear the area of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters who have been launching cross border attacks on US troops in the Afghan province of Kunar.

According to official data, more than 1,500 militants and 74 troops have so far been killed in the operation, which also caused numerous civilian casualties and displaced around 250,000 people.

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