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Pakistan army kills 45 Taliban; border reopens

Last Updated: Monday, August 31, 2009 - 18:55

Islamabad: Pakistani soldiers killed at least 45 Taliban militants in scattered gunbattles across the northwestern Swat Valley after a suicide bombing on a police station killed 17 cadets, the army said Monday.
The military has said it is restoring security in Swat after its three-month offensive ended the Taliban`s rule over many areas there. But suicide attacks and skirmishes continue.

The death toll in Sunday`s suicide attack rose to 17 on Monday as one of the wounded died, local hospital official Ikram Khan said. The bomber sneaked into a police courtyard in the valley`s main town of Mingora and detonated his explosives next to a group of volunteers training for a community policing force.

The other bomb, near the border crossing, ripped through a line of NATO fuel trucks backed up by a two-day closure resulting from a dispute over fruit inspections. At least one driver was killed and 16 trucks destroyed on the Pakistani side of the Chaman crossing, police official Gul Mohammad said.

The border crossing reopened Monday, he said.

Chaman is one of two main crossing points for supplies for American and NATO troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The foreign troops get about 75 percent of their supplies through Pakistan.

Pakistani customs officials said their increased and lengthy inspections of Afghan trucks carrying pomegranates and grapes prompted Afghan officials to close the border.

Officials had warned the closure was a security risk because it left nearly 1,000 trucks, many of them carrying supplies to international troops, exposed. The Taliban`s Afghan heartland of Kandahar is just across the border.

Customs and security officials from both sides agreed to end their dispute Monday, Mohammad said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, August 31, 2009 - 18:55
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