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Civilians Flee Fighting in Pakistan's Northwest as Warplanes Target Militants


09 October 2007

Pakistani families are fleeing their homes in North Waziristan as government warplanes pound the restive tribal region on the fourth day of fighting with militants.

Nearly 250 people have been reported killed in the battles near the Afghan border.

The death toll increased Tuesday, after government air strikes targeted militant hideouts near the town of Mir Ali. Witnesses say more than 50 militants and civilians have been killed.

Pakistan's army said earlier that the battles in the North Waziristan region had killed 150 rebels and 45 soldiers.

The army says the fighting began after pro-Taleban militants ambushed a military convoy late Saturday near Mir Ali. Government troops and helicopter gunships then retaliated.

Also Tuesday, a bomb exploded in a music shop in the city of Peshawar in North West Frontier Province - wounding at least 12 people.

Taleban and al-Qaida militants have taken refuge in Pakistan's tribal regions since U.S.- led forces ended Taleban rule in neighboring Afghanistan in 2001.

Attacks on Pakistani security forces have surged since the collapse in July of a peace deal between the government and pro-Taleban militants. The deal was designed to drive out foreign al-Qaida fighters from the tribal region.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.



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