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Pakistani security forces kill 6 militants in clashes in Swat Valley

By Sherin Zada (CP)

MINGORA, Pakistan — Pakistani security forces killed six militants in clashes in the Swat Valley, a northwest region where the military has largely routed the Taliban but where sporadic violence persists, an army spokesman said Sunday.

The militants attacked a security checkpoint near Shakar Dara on Saturday night, Maj. Mushtaq Ahmed said. Authorities imposed a curfew as they searched for the assailants. Clashes during the search operation killed six militants and wounded one soldier in the Matta area.

The Pakistani army launched a major anti-Taliban offensive in 2009 in Swat, a one-time tourist haven largely overrun by militants beginning in 2007.

Though the months-long offensive was hailed a success, militant activity is still reported in the picturesque region and concerns are growing that the insurgents could rise again unless redevelopment efforts move faster.

Also Sunday, a suicide bomber apparently targeting a militant commander from a rival faction attacked a vegetable market in a region along the Afghan border, wounding nine people, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The attack occurred in South Waziristan, a lawless tribal area that is also the focus of an army offensive against the Pakistani Taliban, a network that is focused on attacking the Pakistani state. However, the bomber struck territory controlled by Maulvi Nazir, a militant commander whose focus is the war in Afghanistan and who has been left alone by the Pakistani army.

One of Nazir’s deputies, Tahsil Khan, was sitting in a restaurant at the market in Shakai town during the attack, said the two intelligence officials. The bomber was heading toward the restaurant but Khan’s bodyguards opened fire on him, which detonated his explosives.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to media on the record, said they suspect the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack as part of a turf war with Nazir.

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