25 militants, two soldiers killed in Pakistan
Pakistan's army said on Monday it had killed at least 25 Taliban militants in troubled Swat district, while two soldiers died and three were wounded in the offensive, reported dpa.
The casualties came one day after 37 rebels reportedly died in shelling by helicopter gunships of their hideouts in the country's lawless tribal region.
The army launched a search-and-cordon operation in the Khwazakhela area of Swat valley Saturday night after an attack by heavily-armed rebels on a checkpost, military spokesman major Murad Khan told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. It continued through Monday when the 25 "miscreants" were killed.
During the operation, the government forces used artillery fire to target rebel positions in the area. Stray mortar rounds also hit some houses, killing one person and injuring four members of a family, local residents said.
Swat, formerly a popular tourist destination in the North-West Frontier Province, has seen a rise in violence since October 2007 when government troops launched an offensive against the loyalists of radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who had waged an armed struggle to enforce strict Taliban-style Islamic laws in the region.
Separately, the military claimed late Sunday that it had killed at least 27 Taliban fighters, including several would-be suicide bombers, during airstrikes in the tribal district of Orakzai.
"Two important commanders also died in the action," Khan told dpa.
Orakzai, previously a relatively peaceful area, has turned into another centre of Taliban violence.
On Friday, a suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden vehicle during a tribal meeting held against growing Islamic militancy, killing more than 60 people and injuring more than 100 others. Some reports put the death toll at over 100.
Meanwhile, 10 militants were killed Sunday in a security action in Bajaur, another tribal district, where the military has been conducting a major offensive since early August against al-Qaeda and Taliban rebels.
Pakistan's tribal areas serve as a safe haven for militants launching cross-border attacks on US-led international forces in Afghanistan.