Pakistan fighting claims 64 lives

Pakistan fighting claims 64 lives

Pakistan Army on Wednesday widened its crackdown on Taliban and attacked them with helicopter gunships and tanks to wrest control of the restive Swat valley killing 64 extremists as thousands of people fled the region’s main town Mingora following upsurge in violence.

While 35 Taliban fighters were killed as troops, under heavy tank fire cover, engaged the militants in street fighting in Mingora and took control of Emerald Mines, which Taliban were exploiting to enrich their coffers, two more lost their lives in gun battles at Saidu Sharief and Matta in Swat district, the army said.

Heavy fighting also raged in the nearby Buner district, 100 km from Islamabad, where troops blasted Taliban fortifications in Pir Baba and Sultanwas areas killing 27 militants, days after the controversial Swat deal collapsed.

As the troops launched fresh offensive, Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and apprised him of the operation.

Summit begins

The action by the Pakistani forces came as the trilateral summit of the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan got underway in Washington.

Zardari for fresh talks after polls

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said he is awaiting the formation of a new government in New Delhi to start a “fresh dialogue” with it. “No Pakistan democratic government has gone to war with India. We’ve always wanted peace. We still want peace with India,” he said.

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