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22 Killed in Raid on Taliban Bases, Says Pakistan


Pakistani officials say military strikes on Taliban bases in northwest tribal areas Thursday killed at least 22 insurgents.

Military helicopter gunships attacked the Taliban hide-outs in the Kurram and Orakzai tribal regions, near the border with Afghanistan.

Authorities say the bases were run by Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud, who they see as a potential successor to Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

Pakistani and U.S. officials say they are almost certain Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a suspected U.S. missile strike in the South Waziristan tribal region on August 5. But, Taliban commanders insist he is alive.

In other violence, Pakistani officials say suspected militants killed three prominent anti-Taliban tribal leaders in separate attacks.

In one incident, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed pro-government tribal chief Malik Khadeen Thursday in South Waziristan. Three other people were killed, including one of Khadeen's relatives.

Authorities also found the bodies of two pro-government militia leaders abducted by militants in the Bajaur tribal area.

Also Thursday, fighting continued between insurgents loyal to Baitullah Mehsud and followers of pro-government tribal leader Turkistani Bitani. The clashes took place between South Waziristan and the neighboring district of Tank.

Pakistani troops also detained 14 suspected militants Thursday in the North West Frontier Province's Swat region.




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

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