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Pakistani Military: Troops, Gunships Pound Militant Hideouts

A Pakistani military spokesman says troops backed by helicopter gunships have pounded militant hideouts in a tribal region of northwest Pakistan.

Major General Waheed Arshad Wednesday said about 40 militants were killed during the fighting in North Waziristan.

Also in the northwest, Pakistani authorities say pro-Taleban militants attacked a paramilitary post and abducted 12 security personnel. Local officials say the attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades during the pre-dawn raid near the town of Bannu in North West Frontier Province near the Afghan border.

Pakistani authorities are still trying to negotiate the release of more than 200 other soldiers who were seized by militants last month in the South Waziristan region, also on the Afghan border.

Attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas in the northwest have increased since a government raid on a radical mosque in Islamabad earlier this year killed a top cleric and dozens of his supporters. Pro-Taleban militants also pulled out of a peace deal with the Pakistan government designed to flush out al-Qaida fighters.

Taleban and al-Qaida militants have taken refuge in Pakistan's remote tribal regions since the United States ousted the Taleban government in neighboring Afghanistan in 2001.

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