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Pakistani Forces Kill Over 25 Militants In Swat

MINGORA, Pakistan -- Pakistani security forces have killed more than 25 militants in the troubled Swat valley in the northwest, a military spokesman said.

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

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

"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 on July 30.

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

Pakistani authorities signed a peace pact with the militants 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.

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 July 28, security forces fired mortar at militant hideouts in the area and also arrested six suspects in a search operation early on July 29.

Also on July 29, militants attacked a joint military-police post in the Kabal area, 35 kilometers northwest of Mingora, Swat's main town, and captured 30 hostages, according to officials.

The militants say they will continue their campaign unless troops are withdrawn from the valley.