80 Taliban Killed in Pakistan: Reports

Pakistani armed forces are reported to have killed at least 80 insurgents since they launched an assault in the Buner district in the restive north-western province bordering Afghanistan, the militants had been in control of the area until recently.

Three soldiers are also reported killed while right others sustained wounds in the crackdown, said CNN citing a military statement on Sunday.

The Pakistani offensive was triggered after Taliban militants captured Buner, setting off concerns over the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear cache.

The Taliban fighters gathered momentum since a controversial peace deal with the government invoking the enforcement of Islamic law (Shariah) in parts of Swat Valley.

Pakistani officials, however, termed the advancement of militants into Buner as a serious violation of the peace deal and briefly halted peace talks between the two sides in North West Frontier Province.

According to media reports citing provincial officials, government representatives and Taliban restarted negotiations on Friday and were scheduled to have another session soon.

The anti-militant action comes ahead of Pakistan President Asif Zardari’s visit to Washington.

Zardari – widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto – arrives in the US capital for trilateral talks with US and Afghanistan on May 6.

The Zardari administration came in for severe flak from capitals across the world for not cracking down on militants along its border with Afghanistan.

Meanwhile Reuters news agency in a report says that two government officials have been beheaded by the insurgents in the Swat valley, the action, according to the report, was to avenge the deaths of two militant commanders at the hands of security forces.

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