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Donors Pledge $224 Million to Help Pakistan Refugees

Several nations have pledged $224 million in aid for the huge number of people displaced by Pakistan's military offensive against Taliban insurgents in the northwestern Swat Valley area.

At an international donors' conference in Islamabad Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the aid is critical towards winning the war against terrorists.

The amount includes $110 million promised by the United States earlier this week. The Pakistani government said it needs to raise between $500 million and $600 million to address the crisis.

The United Nations said about 1.5 million people have been displaced by fighting this month alone, in addition to some 500,000 forced from their homes over the past year.

The U.N. is expected to launch a separate appeal on Friday.

The Pakistani government has pledged $100 million in funding for relief efforts and one-time grants of $300 to each displaced family.

In fighting Thursday, Pakistan army officials said fresh clashes between security forces and Taliban insurgents in Swat have left several militants dead, including a key commander.

Officials said five soldiers were also killed, and several others were wounded.

On Wednesday, an army spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, said troops killed 80 militants and captured the key Taliban stronghold of Sultanwas, the main town in Buner district just 100 kilometers from the capital, Islamabad.

The spokesman said the town served as the Taliban's military headquarters and was the first town that the militants captured after entering Buner.