Pakistani Military Kills 52 Insurgents

Associated Press
Saturday, February 7, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Feb. 6 -- Government helicopter gunships killed 52 fighters Friday in two attacks in northwestern Pakistan, a region where the Taliban and al-Qaeda increasingly hold sway, an official said.

The attacks took place near the Khyber region, said Fazal Mahmood, the No. 2 government representative in the area.

They destroyed five insurgent hideouts, a large ammunition depot and eight vehicles, he said.

It was not possible to independently verify his account, because the region is too dangerous to visit.

Fighters have stepped up attacks in the Khyber region of the country in recent months, seeking to disrupt a vital supply line for Western forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Suspected insurgents bombed a bridge on Tuesday, cutting the supply line, and a suicide car bomber blew himself up Friday in the region, wounding six people including two policemen.

Government official Bakhtiar Khan said the repaired bridge reopened Friday to all traffic, including trailer trucks supplying NATO and U.S. forces.

Pakistani officials said they worry that rising militancy is fanning tension between the country's Sunni Muslim majority and Shiite minority.

The Taliban and several other violent extremist groups are Sunni.

Earlier Friday, hundreds of Shiites angry over a suicide attack outside a mosque burned a police station in central Pakistan, police and witnesses said.

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