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Pakistani forces kill 11 Taliban militants

WARPLANES and helicopter gunships pounded suspected militant positions in Pakistan's troubled northwest yesterday, killing 11 Taliban fighters, intelligence officials said yesterday.

The government also upped the stakes in its conflict with Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, offering a reward of 50 million rupees (US$615,000) for information leading to Mehsud's capture or death.

Clashes between the military and Mehsud and his militants are increasing in the volatile northwest, where the army appears to be preparing for a fresh offensive aimed at eliminating the Taliban chieftain.

In North Waziristan, insurgents ambushed an army convoy yesterday, killing six soldiers, intelligence officials said on condition on anonymity because they weren't authorized to disclose the information.

The four officials say some soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

Insurgents also killed one government soldier in twin attacks on a pair of army outposts near Wana in South Waziristan shortly after morning prayers, the army said.

Pakistan's military kept up its bombing campaign on suspected militant hideouts in the region.

Jet fighters struck the village of Kani Guram overnight, leaving eight militants dead, while helicopter gunships hit positions in Shah Alam and Raghhzai, killing three more fighters, the intelligence officials said.

It was not possible to independently confirm the casualty counts or the identities of those reported killed. Journalists have little access to the remote region.


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