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Pakistani PM: Troops to Stay in NW Until Displaced Return Home

Pakistan's prime minister said troops will stay in the northwest until more than one million people who have fled fighting between the army and Taliban militants return home.

Yousuf Raza Gilani said the military campaign against Taliban fighters in Swat is progressing "very successfully." He said militants are fleeing the combat area in disguise.

Mr. Gilani pledged that security forces will stay in the region until peace is restored and people are back in their homes.

He made the remarks Monday to an all-parties conference in the capital, Islamabad.

The United Nations refugee agency estimates the military operation in the northwest has caused nearly 1.5 million people to flee their homes this month.

A Pakistani interior ministry spokesman, Qamar Saman Kaira, reiterated Monday that the military has been ordered to avoid civilian casualties, and he said displaced people will be compensated for their losses.

Pakistan's military said troops are closing in on Swat's main town of Mingora.

Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said 27 fighters were killed Monday, including three top Taliban commanders. He said several members of the security forces, including an officer, were killed, and 17 soldiers injured.

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