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Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 16:44 UK

Pakistan army 'kills militants'

Pakistani police officers take position at a check post in Kabal, a troubled area of Swat valley in northern Pakistan on Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Pakistani forces have been fighting militants in Swat since last year

Five Pakistani troops and 25 militants have died in fighting in the north-western Swat region, the military says.

The militants confirm the clashes but say only five of their fighters died. Elsewhere, militants killed a woman who they said had spied for the US.

The Swat clashes come after three officials were killed and up to 25 security personnel kidnapped.

The violence has delivered a serious blow to a peace deal signed with the militants in Swat two months ago.

'Heavy losses'

Parts of the valley have been placed under curfew after the latest clashes, officials say.

A military spokesman told reporters in Swat that the security forces fought a gun battle with the pro-Taleban militants after they attacked a security patrol near Matta, a militant stronghold in the district.

A supporter of Maulana Fazlullah, a pro-Taleban cleric, in Swat
The security situation in Swat has been deteriorating despite a peace deal

"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 news agency.

"Five of our brave soldiers have been martyred."

A spokesman for the militants, Muslim Khan, however, told the BBC Urdu service that the troops had fired first, killing five militants. Three others were injured, he said.

He also said the militants had destroyed the remaining portion of a government-owned hotel they had partly destroyed last month.

The hotel was in the country's only ski resort, located in the Malam Jabba area of Swat which has been under Taleban control since late last year.

The spokesman also said that the militants had destroyed an abandoned army rest house and a girls' school in the Malam Jabba area.

Officials in Mingora, the headquarters of Swat district, said they had received some reports of destruction in the area, but could not confirm them immediately.

Correspondents say the security situation in Swat has been deteriorating despite a peace agreement between the government and pro-Taleban cleric Maulana Fazlullah.

Woman killed

In the tribal region of North Waziristan, pro-Taleban militants shot dead a woman whom they accused of spying for the United States, officials said.

The body of Gulzada Bibi was found with three bullet wounds in the chest about 35km (22 miles) west of Miranshah, the main town in the area.

"A note pinned to her body said she belonged to Afghanistan's Paktia province and was caught with a satellite phone she had been using to spy for the US," a local man told Reuters.

The militants have killed dozens of people they accused of spying for Afghanistan or the US, but targeting a woman in this way is rare.




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