12 Sep 2008

Pakistan kills 100 in raid near Afghan border

7:48 pm on 12 September 2008

Pakistani forces killed up to 100 al Qaeda-linked militants in fierce clashes near the Afghan border on Thursday, according to a security official.

Security forces fought pitched battles in the northwestern Bajaur region against militants loyal to a local commander Qari Zia-ur-Rehman.

"Eighty to 100 militants were killed in Bajaur today. Most of them are foreigners," the official said on condition of anonymity. He said the nationality of the foreigners was being ascertained.

He said two soldiers were also killed in the fighting

The three days of fighting in the region has brought the death toll to over 100. Separately, the security forces have killed eight militants in the northwestern Swat Valley, a military spokesman said.

Bajaur has been scene of one of the heaviest battles in recent weeks in which more than 600 militants have been killed.

An intensifying insurgency in Afghanistan has piled pressure on Pakistan to go after militants operating from sanctuaries in remote enclaves on its side of the border. It has also led to a sharp increase in US strikes on militants in Pakistan.

The new government in Islamabad says it is committed to the campaign against militancy, launched after the September 11 attacks seven years ago, but bans incursions by US troops.

Militants in Bajaur regularly cross into Afghanistan to attack Western troops and government forces there.

Violence in Afghanistan has soared over the past two years as al Qaeda and Taliban fighters have regrouped. The US military said on Wednesday it was not winning there and would revise its strategy to combat militant havens in Pakistan.