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Pakistani troops kill 80 militants

PAKISTANI troops killed 80 militants and drove the Taliban from a major urban stronghold yesterday, the army said, as United States military planes brought aid for refugees fleeing the fighting.

One Pakistani soldier was killed and nine seriously wounded as troops battled insurgents still holding several other towns in the Swat Valley, a military spokesman said.

Pakistani troops launched an offensive last month after Taliban militants based in Swat pushed into Buner, bringing them within 100 kilometers of the capital of Islamabad.

Government forces cleared Sultanwas, the main Taliban-held town in Buner, overnight following intense clashes, army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said.

He said soldiers destroyed several vehicles used by black-clad militants and defused a string of homemade bombs.

"Sultanwas was the main stronghold of terrorist-miscreants in Buner, where they have made concrete underground bunkers and ammunition dumps," Abbas said.

The army claims it has killed more than 1,000 militants and re-claimed swaths of territory recently seized by the militants.

However, the clashes have prompted some 1.5 million people to flee their homes.

However, the clashes have prompted some 1.5 million people to flee their homes, a humanitarian emergency that could sap Pakistani enthusiasm for similar action against other Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries near the Afghan border.


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