Pakistani officials say soldiers have been deployed to guard some educational buildings in the northwest, as Taliban militants wage a campaign to prevent girls from attending school in restive Swat valley.

The military says the troops were dispatched during the past few days to protect schools in the city of Mingora, amid a wave of bombings.

Taliban militants have blown up an estimated 175 schools in Swat.  Officials say recent targets also include boys' schools.

Earlier this month, Pakistan's information minister, Sherry Rehman, vowed that girls' schools would re-open on March first, after winter break, despite the Taliban's ban on girls' education in the region.

A local Taliban leader, Shah Durran, announced the ban in December, telling families they must stop sending their daughters to school by January 15 or the girls will be killed.

The ban is part of the Taliban's bid to enforce its strict version of Islamic law.

Pakistan's military has launched an offensive against militants who are battling to impose this interpretation of Islamic law on Pakistanis living in the northwest.  

Officials Sunday say Pakistani security forces raided a militant hideout  in Swat, in the town of Ningwalai, on Saturday and killed eight alleged fighters during the operation.  Sources who requested anonymity say militant commander Nur Bakhtiar is among the dead.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.