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Pakistan targets Taliban militants

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 17 October 2009

Pakistan's army begins a ground operation against Taliban militants on the Afghan border following a string of militant attacks.

Pakistan soldier (credit:Reuters)

There have been dozens of casualties during intense fighting between the Pakistani army and Taliban militants. 30,000 Pakistani troops have moved into South Waziristan province, near the Afghan border, where Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud is based.

A curfew was imposed before the offensive began, with thousands of civilians fleeing.

Pakistan decided to take action after more than 150 people were killed in co-ordinated Taliban bomb attacks across the country.

The offensive began the day after a suicide bomber killed 12 people in the north western city of Peshawar.

In a show of unity before the widely expected offensive in the South Waziristan region, government and political party leaders gave the military full backing on Friday, vowing to weed out militants and restore the writ of the state.

Intelligence and government officials said troops were moving from three directions and some clashes had erupted when they met resistance. Four soldiers were wounded, an official said.

A military official referred to the troop movements as "pre-positioning".

The army says about 28,000 soldiers are in place to take on an estimated 10,000 hard-core Taliban. About 500 commandos arrived in the region on Friday, security officials said.

The army has been stepping up its air and artillery attacks in recent days to soften up the militants' defences while civilians have been fleeing.

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