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Dozens of militants killed in Pakistan's Kyber region, military says

Eighty militants have been killed in clashes near the Afghan border, the Pakistani military says. Army operations in the region have been stepped up after a series of deadly jihadist attacks.

The rebel fighters from the outlawed militant group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and the allied group Lashkar-e-Islam were killed over the last few days amid heavy bombings by military jets, a Pakistani military official said on Sunday.

At least seven soldiers were also reported killed in the fighting in the Tirah Valley area of the Khyber tribal district in Pakistan's lawless northwest.

"In Khyber, terrorists [are] being dislodged from bases, fleeing to border. So far 80 terrorists killed, approximately 100 injured in this phase," General Asim Bajwa said on his Twitter account.

"Operations will continue with full force till total terrorist elimination from these areas."

The number of casualties cannot be independently verified, as the area is sealed to outsiders including journalists.

Taliban hotbed

The valley near the Afghan border is known to be home to the Pakistani Taliban and its allies.

The Pakistani army has stepped up its ongoing offensive in the region after the Taliban attacked a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in December, killing 150 people, most of them children.

The latest clashes occurred following two suicide bombing attacks at churches in eastern Lahore last Sunday - claimed by the Taliban splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar - in which 17 people died.

The Pakistani Taliban, who share the jihadist Wahhabi ideology of the Afghan militants of the same name, have vowed to topple the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and establish its own, much stricter interpretation of Islamic law in the country.

tj/sb (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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