17 militants die as Pakistan combat jets bomb Taliban positions


Islamabad : At least 17 militants were killed on Monday when Pakistani combat jets and gunship helicopters bombed suspected Taliban positions in the troubled northwestern Swat valley and adjoining Bajaur tribal region.

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Ten militants were killed when jets struck militant positions at several places in Charmang and Loisam sub-districts of Bajaur Agency, considered strongholds of the local Taliban.

A number of militant hideouts were destroyed in the bombing, TV channels reported.

The militant positions were also targeted with artillery, reports said. There was no official word on the casualties though local residents said the toll could rise. Reports said four civilians, including women, were also killed in the bombardment.

In the restive Swat valley in North West Frontier Province, security forces killed seven militants and injured ten more in an exchange of fire in Kabal sub-district.

The security forces retaliated when they were fired at by militants, a spokesman said.

In the Taliban-dominated Darra Adam Khel region of NWFP, Frontier Corps troops captured five militants, including two commanders, and seized two trucks packed with arms and ammunition.

Pakistani security forces have stepped up the bombardment of Taliban positions in Bajaur and Swat with combat jets and gunship helicopters over the past few days.

Over 60 people, including 22 civilians, were killed in air strikes and gun battles in Swat and Bajaur on Sunday.

The News daily put the death toll in yesterday’s air strikes in the Taliban-dominated Matta sub-district of Swat at 100, including some 25 militants. However, it did not give a detailed break-up of the casualties or the areas where they had occurred.