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Pak forces kill 33 Taliban militants in fresh offensive

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
September 07, 2009 14:55 IST
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Pakistani security forces backed by helicopter gunships pounded Taliban positions in the restive Khyber tribal region bordering Afghanistan, and killed 33 militants and destroyed two main bases of the banned Lashkar-e Islam group.

The troops have focused on Bara sub-division, the main stronghold of the Lashkar-e-Islam. Thirty-three militants were killed when security forces targeted the militant bases at Naray Baba and Tarkos on Sunday. Nearly 100 rebels were killed in the region earlier.

Six vehicles were also destroyed in the action, the paramilitary Frontier Corps said. Two persons abducted by the militants were safely freed during an operation in Jamrud. Nine militants were arrested in the Bara and Jamrud areas on Sunday.

Residents of several areas in Bara sub-division have migrated to other places due to the operation against militants. They left the region when curfew was relaxed for three hours on Sunday.

Authorities have said the Lashkar-e-Islam group has been running private jails and militant training centres. A 15-member peace committee of tribal elders met officials of the political administration of Khyber Agency and called for a swift end to the operation.

Officials gave the committee a list of 68 wanted men, including Lashkar-e-Islam chief Mangal Bagh Afridi. They said the operation will continue if all the wanted men did not surrender unconditionally.

They also reminded the elders of a pledge made by the Lashkar-e-Islam last year that militants would not challenge the writ of the state and stop armed patrolling in Bara.

The operation was launched after a suicide bomber struck a security check post in Khyber Agency last month, killing 22 personnel of a militia.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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