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Pakistan Continues Waziristan Offensive, Closes Schools


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Pakistani helicopter gunships attacked Taliban strongholds near the Afghan border Wednesday on the fifth day of an offensive in the tribal region of South Waziristan.

Officials say troops are facing fierce resistance as they fight to gain control of Kotkai, the hometown of the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud.

Pakistan's army says about 115 militants and 16 soldiers have been killed since the offensive began

There is no independent confirmation of the tolls, as the region is closed to outsiders and no journalists are traveling with Pakistani troops.

In the rest of the country, authorities closed many schools a day after two suicide bombers attacked the International Islamic University in Islamabad, killing four people at a faculty building and a women's cafeteria.

The Taliban has carried out a wave of assaults in recent weeks, viewed as retaliation for the army's Waziristan offensive. The attacks have killed more than 175 people.

Pakistani army commanders say some 30,000 troops are battling about 10,000 militants in South Waziristan. They say they expect the offensive to last six to eight weeks, before winter weather makes fighting difficult.

Pakistani officials say Tuesday's blasts at the International Islamic University killed six people, including the two bombers. At least 20 other people were wounded, most of them female students, who make up nearly half of the university's student population. The university is also popular with foreigners.

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


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