Pakistani officials say security forces have killed at least 460
al-Qaida-linked militants in a tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
VOA's Ayaz Gul reports, the week-long clashes also have left 22 troops
dead and forced more than 200,000 people to flee to safer areas.
fighting is taking place in the volatile northwestern Bajaur tribal
region, which is regarded as a stronghold for Taliban and al-Qaida
Pakistan army gunship helicopters relentlessly
pounded insurgent positions since the clashes broke out in the border
region a week ago. In addition to killing hundreds of militants,
including senior Taliban commanders, officials say many militants were
The head of the federal Interior Ministry, Rehman
Malik, says that as many as 3,000 armed militants are present
in the area.
Mr. Malik told a news conference in Peshawar Friday that the majority of the militants are foreigners, including
nationals from Afghanistan, Central Asia and some Arab countries. He
says the government will not surrender, and the security operation will
continue until these extremists are wiped out.
officials say that the fighting has forced tens of thousands of people
to leave the area and take refuge in the adjoining NorthWest Frontier
Province. Fleeing residents reported heavy bombings in some villages,
and officials say most of those left in the battle zone are militants.
provincial governor, Owais Ahmed Ghani, told the same news conference
that the government has set up relief camps for the displaced people,
and efforts are being made to avert a possible humanitarian crisis.
Bajaur tribal region is adjacent to Afghanistan's eastern province of
Kunar, where U.S-led coalition forces are fighting al-Qaida and Taliban
militants. A spokesman for the coalition forces in Afghanistan told VOA
they closely coordinate anti-terror operations with their Pakistani
counterparts, but are not involved in the current fighting in Pakistan.