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Pakistani Troops Swarm Swat Valley; Residents Trapped


Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships and war planes are pounding Taliban militants in the northwestern Swat Valley, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee while others have been trapped.

Pakistani military officials said Saturday 55 militants have been killed in what is being described as an effort to eliminate militants from the region.

Some of the heaviest fighting took place in the town of Mingora, where the military says helicopter gunships targeting Taliban hideouts killed 15 militants.

Fighting also raged in the Kabal and Dir districts. Pakistan says four of its soldiers have been injured.

The United Nations says the fighting has forced 500,000 people to leave their homes in Dir, Swat and Buner districts in recent days, but some residents say they are trapped.

Many of those fleeing the area report scores of civilian casualties.

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