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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 13:37 GMT
General killed in Pakistan crash
Pakistani military helicopter
Helicopters are routinely used by the Pakistani army
A senior Pakistani army officer is among eight people killed in a helicopter crash in the restive South Waziristan region, the army says.

The army helicopter carrying Maj Gen Javed Sultan crashed because of a technical fault near the Afghan border, an army spokesman told the BBC.

Maj Gen Sultan was in charge of fighting pro-Taleban militants in North and South Waziristan.

The army says that two brigadiers are also among the dead.

The helicopter - which the military says was on a routine reconnaissance mission - reportedly came down between the towns of Jandola and Wana at roughly 1440 local time (0940 GMT).

The military says that everyone on board was killed.

Heavy casualties

According to the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad, the death of Maj Gen Sultan will dent morale among Pakistani troops who have already suffered heavy casualties in the region.

He is the most senior Pakistani officer to be killed in military operations in the area.

Map

Hours before the crash was reported, Taleban militants based in Pakistan said they were scaling back operations against the military.

They said the decision was made after the security forces had "shown restraint" in their operations in the area.

A spokesman claiming to represent the militants denied any secret negotiations had taken place between the two sides.

Guerrillas loyal to a local pro-Taleban commander, Baitullah Mehsud, have been fighting government forces in the Waziristan region.

The area is said to be a safe haven for al-Qaeda and Taleban insurgents fighting in Afghanistan.



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