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Deadly clashes in northwestern Pakistan

Latest update : 2008-07-30

Pakistani security forces claim to have killed 25 Islamist militants in the Swat valley, a former tourist spot. Three military intelligence officiers lost their lives in the area earlier this week.

MINGORA - Pakistani security forces have killed more than 25 militants in the troubled Swat valley in the northwest, a military spokesman said on Wednesday.

 

The fighting took place overnight in a village near Matta, a known stronghold for militants in the region.

 

Militants killed three army intelligence men in an ambush and also took hostage 30 police and paramilitary soldiers in a raid on their post earlier this week.

 

"We have inflicted heavy losses on the militants. We have the video footage of the bodies of the militants killed in the fighting," a military spokesman in Swat told Reuters.

 

Muslim Khan, a spokesman for militants led by cleric Fazlullah, confirmed the clashes but said only one of their fighters was killed.

 

Pakistani authorities signed a peace pact with the militants in May, bringing a lull in months of violence, but militants have stepped up activity in recent weeks after accusing the government of failing to honour the accord.

 

Khan and government officials said the militants had blown up a hotel at the country's only ski resort, Malam Jabba, and a military camp. The militants had torched the hotel last month.

 

Swat had been a top tourist destination until militants launched a campaign of violence last year to enforce Taliban-style Islamic law in the valley.

 

After the killing of the three intelligence officials on Monday, security forces fired mortar bombs on militant hideouts in the area and also arrested six suspects in a search operation early on Tuesday.

 

Also on Tuesday, militants attacked a joint military-police post in the Kabal area, 35 km (22 miles) north-west of Mingora, Swat's main town, and captured 30 hostages, according to officials.

 

The militants say they will continue their campaign unless troops are withdrawn from the valley.

Date created : 2008-07-30

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