Over 25 militants, 5 soldiers killed in Pakistan

MINGORA, Pakistan (Reuters) – More than 25 Taliban militants and five Pakistani soldiers have been killed in a fierce clash in the troubled Swat valley in the northwest, a military spokesman said on Wednesday.

The fighting took place overnight in a village near Matta, a known stronghold of militants in the region.

“We have inflicted heavy losses on the militants. We have the video footage of the bodies of the militants killed in the fighting,” a military spokesman in Swat told Reuters.

“Five of our brave soldiers have been martyred,” he added.

He said a curfew had been imposed across the Swat Valley until further notice.

Muslim Khan, a spokesman for militants led by cleric Fazlullah, confirmed the clashes but said only one of their fighters was killed.

Separately, militants shot and killed an Afghan woman accused of being a U.S. spy in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region on the Afghan border.

Pakistani authorities signed a peace pact with the militants in Swat in May, bringing a lull in months of violence, but militants have stepped up activity in recent weeks after accusing the government of failing to honor the accord.

Earlier this week, militants killed three army intelligence men in an ambush and also took hostage 30 police and paramilitary soldiers in a raid on their post.

Khan and government officials said the militants had blown up a hotel at country’s only ski resort, Malam Jabba, and a military camp. The militants had torched the hotel last month.

Swat had been a top tourist destination until militants launched a campaign of violence last year to enforce Taliban-style Islamic law in the valley.

After the killing of the three intelligence officials on Monday, security forces fired mortar bombs on militant hideouts in the area and also arrested six suspects in a search operation early on Tuesday.

The militants are demanding the withdrawal of troops from the valley.

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