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Pakistani Army Claims Major Gains Against Pro-Taliban Militants in Swat Valley


The Pakistani army says its troops have recaptured two militant-held towns in northwestern Swat Valley and destroyed the headquarters of a radical pro-Taliban cleric.

Military officials say troops regained control of the towns of Khawazakhela and Matta in the past two days and drove out supporters of militant leader Maulana Fazlullah. The army also says it has secured his complex near the town of Mingora. Its say four suspected militants have been apprehended.

The army said last week it had shut down the FM radio station Fazlullah used to call for strict Islamic law and a holy war against the government.

Hundreds of troops have been fighting Fazlullah's pro-Taliban insurgents who have seized control of a series of small towns and villages in Swat, Pakistan's top tourist destination in North West Frontier Province.

The army says it has killed nearly 250 militants and captured scores of militants since it began its military operation to retake territory last month. The rebel advance in Swat marked a move out of the country's tribal regions near the border with Afghanistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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