27 militants killed in Pak; terror training centres destroyed

Islamabad: Pakistani military jets pounded Taliban hideouts and strongholds as the ground forces continued search and cordon operations killing 27 militants including four close aides of top commander Baitullah Mehsud in Malakand division of restive NWFP.

The troops in their new campaign also claimed to have destroyed three Taliban training centres.

Though the Army had claimed that it was on the verge of tapering off anti-Taliban operations in Swat, Buner and Dir, the forces conducted search and combing operations following renewed heavy resistance by the militants.

Four Taliban fighters linked to warlord Baitullah Mehsud were killed in the aerial bombardment carried out by fighter jets in Sarwakai area in south Waziristan considered to be haven for Taliban and al Qaeda militants.

Troops killed 16 militants and destroyed three terrorist training centres during a search operation at Tsapparai Kandao in Dir in the past 24 hours.

In Buner district, which has witnessed an upsurge of violence in the past few days, two soldiers were injured in an exchange of fire at Dewana Baba. Troops killed three militants and destroyed a vehicle loaded with weapons and ammunition.

Security forces killed two militants and apprehended another rebel during a search operation at Malukabad in Swat. Six more militants were killed and four suspects were apprehended during an operation at Ningolai, a former Taliban stronghold.

Troops also carried out a search at Qalagai Banda, where they destroyed a house, recovered a vehicle and apprehended five militants.

The search and clearance operations have continued amidst the return to Malakand of thousands of people displaced by the military operations over the past two-and-half months.

Meanwhile, the paramilitary Frontier Corps today said it had arrested two Taliban commanders and seized arms and explosives from their possession during a raid in Landikotal in the Khyber tribal region.

The two commanders were arrested during separate raids in Landikotal, an official said. The arms seized from them included a rocket launcher, mortar shells, remote-controlled bombs, thousands of bullets, explosive materials and drugs.

The two commanders are linked to the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan headed by Baitullah Mehsud.

Bureau Report