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Troops Kill At Least 50 Militants in Northwest Pakistan


Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships pounded militant hideouts in the country's northwest on Saturday, killing at least 50 pro-Taliban militants.

An army spokesman (Major Murad Khan) said at least 10 soldiers also were killed and seven others wounded in the offensive that took place in troubled Swat Valley.

Military officials launched the operation shortly after a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a police station in Swat Valley earlier in the day. At least six policemen were killed and several others were wounded.

Another bomb attack in nearby Bari Kot district killed at least two civilians and wounded at least three others.

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khansaid said the group claimed responsibility for the bombings, and vowed to continue the attacks if the government does not stop military operations against militants in the tribal regions.

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for Thursday's double suicide attacks that killed at least 64 people at the country's main arms complex near Islamabad. Police said they arrested a third suspect on Friday.

Security forces in Pakistan have been fighting Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants in Bajaur and other tribal regions along the Afghan border for weeks. More than 500 militants and 22 soldiers have been killed in the offensive, with thousands more people displaced by the violence.

Separately, government officials say at least five civilians were killed Saturday when a mortar shell hit a home in Bajaur's main town of Khar. Six others were wounded.

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

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