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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2007, 08:39 GMT
Pakistan army 'kills 40 rebels'
A fire burns after Pakistani forces shelled a suspected militant position near Fizagat, Swat valley, 20 November
Pakistani forces have been shelling suspected militant positions
The Pakistani army says it has killed at least 40 pro-Taleban militants in two days of raids in the north-west.

The insurgents were killed in Shangla district in Swat valley on Tuesday and Wednesday, army spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said.

There has been no comment from the militants yet and there was no independent confirmation of the claim.

The Swat valley, next to Pakistan's tribal areas, has been in the grip of an insurgency since October.

Last week, the army said they had killed 16 pro-Taleban militants in the same area.

Situation worsens

Troops "have cleared a hub of resistance of militants from a prominent height" overlooking a road leading to Alpurai, Shangla's main town, Maj Gen Waheed was quoted by news agency Associated Press as saying.

"The operation is continuing today in several parts of Swat."

Militants in Swat
Militants in the Swat valley maintain a high profile

The situation in Swat valley has worsened since October after a pro-Taleban cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, and his supporters sought to enforce his brand of Islamic law.

The militants have since taken over large parts of the outlying areas of the valley, as well as at least four small towns in the district.

Observers say the security forces' largely inhibited movements have increasingly emboldened the militants.

Heavy fighting has caused damage to civilian areas, forcing large numbers of residents to flee.

Gen Musharraf says worsening security in Swat and other parts of Pakistan is one of the main reasons for his declaring a state of emergency on 3 November.

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