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Page last updated at 18:21 GMT, Saturday, 28 March 2009

Pakistan army raid 'kills rebels'

A Pakistani Frontier Corp soldier in the Mohmand tribal area of Pakistan on 28 February 2009
The Pakistan-Afghan border is at the centre of the new US military strategy

Pakistan's army says troops backed by artillery and helicopter gunships have killed 26 militants in an attack near the Afghan border.

The army said the battle took place in Mohmand, North-West Frontier Province, said to be a hub for Taleban militants.

Earlier, Pakistan's president said his country would not allow use of its soil for terrorist activity.

It came after the US said elements in Pakistan's ISI military intelligence were still supporting the Taleban.

Adm Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a CNN interview on Friday night the ISI had links with militants on both Pakistan's borders with Afghanistan and India.

Supply trucks torched

Earlier on Saturday, the Taleban destroyed 12 parked trucks laden with supplies for Nato personnel in Afghanistan - the latest in a series of similar attacks - near Peshawar, capital of North-West Frontier Province.

Tribal areas map

The battle came as families buried their dead a day after a suicide attack that killed at least 50 people at a packed mosque in North-West Frontier Province's Khyber tribal agency.

US President Barack Obama has thrust the Afghan-Pakistan border to the centre of his new strategy.

On Friday he warned that growing radical forces in Afghanistan and the boundary area in Pakistan posed the greatest threat to the American people and the world.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai praised the US review.

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari also welcomed Washington's new strategy in a speech to parliament in Islamabad on Saturday, calling it an endorsement of his own government's counter-extremism policy.

Cross-border operations

He also said his country would not allow anyone to violate its sovereignty, although he did not specifically criticise US missile attacks on Pakistani territory as he has done in the past.

President Asif Ali Zardari addresses parliament in Islamabad on 28 March 2009
The president is the widower of assassinated politician Benazir Bhutto

Cross-border operations by US-led forces have angered Pakistani authorities in recent months.

In his speech to parliament Mr Zardari also recommended the lifting of governor's rule in Punjab province, the imposition of which led to a dangerous confrontation between the opposition and the government.

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says the West will welcome the president's move as it wants nuclear-armed Pakistan to focus on eradicating militant havens.

Mr Zardari's decision to lift direct federal control of the Punjab is being seen as his second climbdown in recent weeks.

Pakistan's one-year-old civilian government was plunged into turmoil this month as opposition leader Nawaz Sharif threw his weight behind a nationwide protest march on the parliament.

The former prime minister and his brother, Shahbaz, who is chief minister of Punjab, were disqualified by the authorities earlier this year from holding elected office.

Western governments and the Pakistan army persuaded Mr Zardari to defuse the crisis by submitting to opposition demands to reinstate the independent-minded Supreme Court chief justice.



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