Page last updated at 18:26 GMT, Sunday, 26 April 2009 19:26 UK

Pakistani forces battle militants

Residents flee fighting in Pakistan's Lower Dir district, 26 April
Civilians could be seen streaming away from the scene of the fighting on Sunday

Pakistani security forces have clashed with Taleban militants in the troubled north-west of the country, close to the Swat Valley.

A militant commander was among a number of militants killed in gun battles in the Lower Dir district of North West Frontier Province, the military said.

A member of the security forces was also killed when a convoy of troops passed through the area.

The area is west of Swat, where a peace deal was recently agreed.

The government agreed peace with the Taleban there in return for the enforcement of Islamic law.

Government spokesman Fartullah Barbar said the government was determined to root out militants but insisted that the Swat deal was still intact.

The new fighting occurred in the same area where on Saturday 12 children died after a bomb, which they mistook for a toy, went off.

'Enough is enough'

Helicopter gunships and tanks were reportedly used in the fighting.

There was no immediate word of casualties from the Taleban and independent sources have not been able to verify the army's claims.

Pakistani interior ministry chief Rehman Malik has repeated his call for the Taleban to disarm.

"Enough is enough," told a TV channel on Sunday.

"We have decided to flush them out. The peace accord was linked to peace. When there is no peace, there is no use for that accord."

The clashes seem to suggest that the government has finally decided to try to stop the spread of the Taleban across northern Pakistan, the BBC's Mark Dummett reports from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Fighters have moved into several districts since the government agreed to the Swat peace deal.

Critics of the agreement say it allows the Taleban to consolidate their grip on Swat, which is home to 1.5 million people, and then to use it as a base to take over neighbouring areas.


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