Pakistani forces kill 26 militants

March 28th, 2009 - 10:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, March 28 (DPA) Pakistani troops Saturday destroyed several Taliban hideouts and killed at least 26 militants, a day after a suicide bombing at a mosque left 53 people dead, including 15 security personnel, an intelligence official said.
More than a dozen militants were also injured when gunship helicopters and artillery targeted insurgents’ positions in the Yaka Ghonda area of Mohmand tribal district.

“Our ground troops are making advance towards Taliban location in three areas,” said an intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The security action came a day after a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque in the neighbouring Khyber district, killing 53 people and injuring more than 160.

The deadly bombing seemed to be a part of a series of attacks along a key route running through Khyber to transport supplies for NATO and US troops in Afghanistan.

Fifteen security personnel from the tribal police, known as the Khasadar force, and the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) died in the attack and two dozen were injured, said Fida Bangish, a government official in Jamrud.

The FC troops and Khasadars guard the Pak-Afghan Highway. Western forces in landlocked Afghanistan use that road to get around 75 percent of their food and military supplies.

Many truck drivers and their helpers who had stopped to offer Friday prayers at the mosque were also killed and wounded in the blast, which caused the two-storey building to collapse.

The Taliban have also repeatedly targeted the transport terminals used by NATO supply contractors in Peshawar, the capital of troubled North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), which borders the tribal region. On Saturday morning, Taliban members attacked the Farhad terminal on the outskirts of the town, damaging 12 shipping containers.

“The containers caught fire after the attackers fired several rocket-propelled grenades at the terminal,” said local police official Fazal Mohammad Khan.

The security forces exchanged fire with the insurgents for around two hours, but no one was injured, Khan added.

US President Barack Obama Friday vowed to intensify the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, unveiling a new strategy for the region.

Local analysts said they fear the revised strategy, which presses Pakistan to eliminate militant hideouts in its mountainous tribal region along the Afghan border would expand the conflict in the country, which has seen suicide bombings increase dramatically over

the past two years.

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