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Pakistani Troops Recapture Large Swath of Territory in Swat

Pakistan's military says its troops have recaptured a large swath of territory in and around the northwestern Swat Valley, destroying terrorist bases and killing hundreds of militants.

Military officials Sunday said dozens of Pakistani soldiers are dug in on the recently captured strategic ridge (Banai Baba Ziarat), which served as a major training facility for the Taliban.

A regional commander , Major General Sajjad Ghani, said the capture of the ridge is a major setback for the militants. He said his troops' mission is to "kill and eliminate" terrorists and their bases without giving any concessions.

Also Sunday, Pakistani troops continued their push into Swat's main town of Mingora, killing at least five suspected militants and arresting several others.

Elsewhere in the northwest, Pakistani aircraft bombed several suspected Taliban targets in the Orakzai tribal region, including an Islamic school (madrassa), killing at least 13 suspected militants.

The Pakistani army says more than 1,000 militants and at least 63 soldiers have been killed since the Pakistani government ordered the anti-insurgency operation three weeks ago. The army launched the offensive after militants violated a peace deal and advanced within 100 kilometers of the capital, Islamabad.

The United Nations says the fighting in northwest Pakistan has caused the greatest displacement of people the world has seen in two decades, with nearly two million people on the run.

In other news, Pakistani police are searching for the gunmen who kidnapped a French tourist in southwestern Baluchistan province Saturday. The French foreign ministry said its crisis center and embassy have been mobilized to resolve the situation.

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