Pakistan kills 22 Taliban fighters in Khyber
Pakistani helicopter gunships killed 22 fighters and destroyed three of their hideouts in attacks in the Khyber region on the Afghan border.
Pakistani helicopter gunships killed 22 fighters and destroyed three of their hideouts on Saturday in attacks in the Khyber region on the Afghan border, paramilitary force officials said.
Troops also killed five Taliban and captured 18 during a search in the Swat valley, the military said.
The attacks came a day after the army said it had captured five top Pakistani Taliban members in the Swat region, including their spokesman, Muslim Khan.
Security forces launched an offensive in Khyber at the beginning of the month against Taliban fighters who have been attacking trucks in the Khyber Pass carrying U.S. military supplies to Western forces across the border in Afghanistan.
Officials of the paramilitary Frontier Corps based in Khyber's main town of Jamrud said helicopters had attacked in two places in the remote Tirah valley killing the 22 militants.
"Three places were targeted and 13 of their vehicles were also destroyed," a force spokesman said.
There was no independent verification of the casualty toll.
According to government figures, more than 150 fighters have been killed in the 12 days in Khyber, one of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous ethnic Pashtun regions, days after a suicide bomber killed 22 border guards.
Pakistani army launched late April a massive offensive in Swat Valley, breaking the deal between Taliban and government over a Sharia administration.
Taliban gained the right to form provincial administration, implementing Shar'ia laws in Swat districts under the deal. But Taliban fighters entered neighbouring districts, including one just 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad.
Taliban says the offensive was launched by government to please U.S. who has pressured to break it.
Taliban says Pakistani government had no respect for any pact and They kept violating every agreement and if this goes on.
The army says it has killed over 2,000 militants, and lost 312 soldiers in the fighting. Independent casualty estimates are unavailable.
But the army said on Friday Khan, the spokesman for the Taliban in Swat, and four other leaders had been captured near the valley's main town of Mingora.
Their capture came just over a month after Baitullah Mehsud, the overall leader of an alliance of Pakistani Taliban factions, was killed in a missile attack by a U.S. drone aircraft in his South Waziristan stronghold on the Afghan border.
Reuters Last Mod: 12 Eylül 2009, 17:36