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Pakistani troops kill 43 militants in Khyber strikes | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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JAMRUD, Pakistan, (Reuters) – Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships killed about 43 militants on Saturday in attacks on hideouts in the northwestern Khyber Pass region, a spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps said.

The Khyber Pass is a main route for supplies trucked from the Pakistani port of Karachi to Western forces battling Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Afghanistan.

The airstrikes took place as troops mopped up militant positions in the northwestern Swat valley, where the military says over 2,000 fighters have been killed since an offensive was launched in April.

Troops began a new operation in the Khyber this week against militants who included those who had fled the Swat offensive.

“Our forces targeted a headquarters of Lashkar-e-Islam and about 15 militants were killed in the attack,” said a Frontier Corps spokesman in Peshawar, referring to a group under the command of Mangal Bagh, an ethnic Pashtun Islamist militant.

A further 28 were killed elsewhere in clashes with insurgents and airstrikes on suspected militant hideouts.

The Khyber is one of seven Pakistani regions with a high degree of autonomy based on tribal laws. On Aug. 27 a suicide bomber killed 22 border guards at the main crossing to Afghanistan.

Helicopter gunships and fighter planes also pounded militant positions in the tribal region of Orakzai that borders Khyber, and intelligence officials said there had been casualties.

In Swat, security forces killed a militant commander and arrested five others, according to a military statement. Seven more militants surrendered to security forces.

Troops also destroyed two hideouts in the neighbouring Dir region, the military said.

The show of force in Swat and elsewhere has helped allay fears among allies — particularly the United States and others with troops in Afghanistan — that nuclear-armed Pakistan was failing to confront Islamist militants.