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Pakistan Military Kills 29 Militants in Northwest


Pakistan's military says its troops have killed 29 militants in the northwestern Swat Valley over the past 24 hours.

Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas says at least six soldiers were killed and 11 others wounded during the recent fighting.

During a press conference Tuesday, he said Pakistani forces are now in control of three villages near the Kabal area of Swat.

The army launched the offensive earlier this month after militants violated a peace deal and advanced within 100 kilometers of the capital, Islamabad.

The Pakistani army says about 1,100 militants and at least 63 soldiers have been killed in the offensive.

Meanwhile, intelligence officials say Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships attacked suspected Taliban hideouts Tuesday in the northwestern tribal region of South Waziristan, killing six militants.

South Waziristan, which is located near the border with Afghanistan, is the stronghold of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.

The U.N. refugee agency says about 126,000 people are being forced from their homes each day in Pakistan's northwest, where the military is battling Taliban militants.

A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said Tuesday that fighting in the Swat valley and surrounding areas has caused one of the fastest major displacements in recent years with nearly 2.4 million people displaced this month.

Human Rights Watch said severe shortages of food, water and medicine are creating a major humanitarian crisis for the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in the region.

The group's Asia director, Brad Adams, urged the Pakistani military to immediately lift a curfew that has been in place for the past week.

He said the civilians in the conflict zone face a "humanitarian catastrophe" unless Islamabad lifts the curfew and takes all possible measures, including airlifting supplies, to quickly alleviate large-scale human suffering.

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

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