ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistani security forces killed nine militants, including two commanders, in weekend battles in the northwestern Swat Valley, the military said Sunday.
Pakistan has largely beaten back a Taliban insurgency in Swat in recent months and intelligence officials say the country is preparing a major offensive against Al Qaeda and Taliban in their stronghold in South Waziristan.
The U.S. hopes Pakistan can eliminate safe havens for militants involved in attacks on American and NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
Security forces killed three militants in the Swat Valley Saturday and arrested 16 others, according to a statement from the forces. In a subsequent battle Sunday, security forces and special police battled militants in a firefight that killed six of the insurgents, including two commanders, Noorul Amin and Fazl-e-Rabbi, the army said. One soldier was wounded, the statement said.
It was not possible to independently confirm the statements.
Meanwhile, police in Peshawar arrested a militant Sunday who was involved in attacking and looting convoys taking supplies to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan and recovered a substantial quantity of stolen goods, Peshawar police chief Liaquat Ali Khan said.
Khan identified the arrested man, Hukam Khan, as an important member of a militant band of looters who also kidnapped people for ransom to generate funds for the militants.
The police recovered military medals, military and spare parts, he said.
"This is an important arrest that will help us eliminate the militants and bring an end to attacks, looting and kidnapping," Khan said.