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Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 14:33 UK

More pressure on Pakistan truce

Troop reinforcements in Swat
Pakistani troops have been fighting militants in Swat since last year

Pro-Taleban militants have killed a paramilitary soldier in an attack on a police station in north-west Pakistan, the military says.

Another soldier was wounded in the raid at a security checkpoint in the town of Kabbal in Swat Valley.

Attacks in the region have increased in recent days after militants suspended peace talks with the government.

A BBC correspondent say the violence may be an attempt by the militants to put pressure on the authorities.

Vehicle checks

Since the weekend there have been a series of attacks in the north-west, including the first suicide bombing for several months.

We have strengthened surveillance after reports that militants have started using this road
Army spokesman Athar Abbas

That has led to questions being asked about a ceasefire officially still in place between the two sides.

Much of the violence has been in Swat, where at least three girls' schools have been burnt down or badly damaged in militant attacks since Sunday.

Swat, in North-West Frontier Province, was a prominent destination for tourists until a Taleban-style insurgency last year.

Tension is also reported from the tribal region of South Waziristan, the stronghold of leading militant Baitullah Mehsud.

Reuters news agency reported that hundreds of vehicles were backed up on the main road into the area because of a security blockade.

map

Army spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas denied reports that security forces had blocked the road connecting the towns of Wana and Dera Ismail Khan.

But he conceded: "We have started strict checking of vehicles on the road after reports of renewed militant activity in the area."

Asked if the militants had erected checkposts on the road, he told the BBC: "We have strengthened surveillance after reports that militants have started using this road [for their activities]."

Maj-Gen Abbas said it was too early to say whether militants involved in peace talks were behind recent violence.

Tribal guarantees

Pakistan's new government has said it will deal with Islamic militancy through dialogue and development, despite previous accords creating "safe havens" for the Taleban and al-Qaeda.

The militants want the authorities to pull regular troops out of tribal areas near the Afghan border, as well as in other parts of the north-west.

In return, the authorities want tribal guarantees that they will stop sheltering foreign militants.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Karachi says there are few regular soldiers in the Mehsud tribal area of South Waziristan and pulling them out would make little difference to the situation. But to do so in other parts of the tribal areas or Swat district could free up militants who are currently under pressure

Our correspondent says the escalation in violence and tighter security measures such as vehicle checks by the authorities are signs that both sides are trying to put pressure on each other as they negotiate.


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