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Taliban stronghold seized, claims army

Article published on the 2008-10-25 Latest update 2008-10-25 14:23 TU

Afghans leave Bajaur this week(Photo: Reuters)

Afghans leave Bajaur this week
(Photo: Reuters)

Pakistani troops have recaptured the strategic town of Loisam in the Bajaur tribal region. The army claims that 1,500 Taliban and Al-Qaida fighters have been killed in the two-month operation which was launched in August after hundreds of militants captured Loisam.

"Loisam has been captured after stiff resistance," Major-General Tariq Khan, head of the paramilitary Frontier Corps force, told reporters in Khar, the regional capital.

The army took journalists to the town, which is at a crossroads of supply routes, to show fortified trenches, tunnels and caves allegedly used in the fighting with soldiers.

Khan says that 300 foreign fighters, mainly from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, have been captured and that 42 army soldiers and 31 members of the paramilitary Frontier Corps were killed.

But he added that the campaign could go on for several months before the area is completely cleared.

Many fighters had gathered in Bajaur after being driven out of other tribal regions, especially North and South Waziristan where controversial US missile attacks have been taking place. The government expelled Afghan refugees from the area during the campaign.

Pakistan's parliament this week condemned foreign military activity on its soil and called for a more political approach to ending insurgency.