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Pakistani troops killed 30 militants in the country's lawless tribal region where a key anti-Taliban leader was assassinated in a bomb attack on Friday, officials said.
The deadly clashes were reported by the military as part of offensives against Taliban strongholds in South Waziristan and militants in Khyber, two districts in the belt dubbed the most dangerous place on Earth by US officials.
Pakistan launched an air and ground offensive in South Waziristan on October 17, deploying 30,000 troops backed by fighter jets and helicopter gunships in the most ambitious operation to date in the mountains near the Afghan border.
"Security forces cleared Narakai after stiff resistance.... Fifteen terrorists were killed and one soldier was injured," said a statement issued by the army.
Earlier a paramilitary Frontier Corps statement said troops backed by helicopter gunships had killed 15 militants in a new operation in Khyber, which lies on the main NATO supply route to Afghanistan outside Peshawar.
Soldiers from the Pakistani army and paramilitary Frontier Corps mounted the operation three days ago to crack down on militants, some of whom have attacked convoys supplying foreign troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Military spokesman Major Fazlur Rehman told AFP that three helicopter gunships pounded rebel positions and 200 soldiers took part.
The details could not be confirmed independently due to a lack of independent access to the battlefields by journalists.
Further north, Shahpoor Khan, a key anti-Taliban leader and an ally of Pakistan's embattled authorities in the district of Bajaur was killed Friday as he returned home after saying prayers for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
The roadside bomb in the town of Badan, also in Pakistan's tribal belt and part of the mountainous area that US officials call a headquarters for Al-Qaeda, killed Khan and wounded three others.
"The tribal leader was killed on the spot and his colleagues were seriously wounded in the blast," said local administration chief Jamil Khan.
Eid officially begins in Pakistan on Saturday but began in Afghanistan on Friday and some people in Bajaur celebrated the start of the Muslim festival of sacrifice on Friday.
Khan's predecessor, Malik Rehmatullah, was killed in a suicide attack last year in Bajaur.
Officials say the Islamists aim to distract the army from the US-endorsed air and ground assault against home grown Taliban in their heartlands.
Security has drastically deteriorated in Pakistan since Islamabad joined the US-led "War on Terror" and hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants fled into the tribal belt after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.
Pakistan has fought repeated offensives in the area and around 2,000 troops have died in battle against Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants since 2002.
Although there has been resistance in South Waziristan, many officials and analysts believe most of the estimated 10,000 Taliban guerrillas in the district have escaped into neighbouring Orakzai and North Waziristan.
The South Waziristan offensive has also seen a surge in suicide attacks targeting civilians and security officials in Peshawar, a sprawling city of 2.5 million on the edge of the tribal belt.
The United States has welcomed Pakistan's military efforts but is reportedly pressuring the civilian government to also counter militants on Pakistani soil who attack NATO and US troops across the border in Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama, who has put Pakistan on the frontline of the war on Al-Qaeda, is expected to order more than 30,000 additional American troops into battle in Afghanistan when he unveils a new strategy next week.
Pakistan has warned that the decision could destabilise its southwestern province of Baluchistan, where the Taliban have a presence and separatist insurgents rose up in 2004.
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