Pakistan troops kill militants, retake control

Pakistan troops kill militants, retake control
# 28 January 2008 12:23 (UTC +04:00)
Militants had occupied the Japanese-built tunnel in the lawless town of Darra Adam Khel on Friday, blocking traffic between the main city of Peshawar in North West Frontier Province and the city of Kohat.
Residents said hundreds of vehicles were stranded on both sides of the tunnel, as the militants had erected barricades on the road to the tunnel.
"The security forces have cleared the Kohat tunnel and taken its control after fighting which killed 24 people," an army official said, requesting anonymity.
Earlier, Pakistan artillery backed by gunship helicopters pounded militant positions to dislodge them from their bunkers on hills overlooking the tunnel, military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP.
The unrest started after militants seized four military trucks loaded with ammunition on Thursday.
Abbas said 25 militants were killed in the operation on Saturday. On Friday troops said they killed 30 rebels and lost two soldiers in Darra Adam Khel, which is known for its weapons bazaar and illegal arms manufacturing factories.
Security officials said Darra Adam Khel had recently become a stronghold of the banned Sunni Muslim extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is said to have links to Al-Qaeda.
Unrest is spreading along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. Troops were also engaged in a major operation in the tribal South Waziristan stronghold of Al-Qaeda-linked militant Baitullah Mehsud, accused of the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.
More than 200 militants and 30 soldiers are said to have died during three weeks of fighting in South Waziristan. /APA/