Pakistan's army says it is striking against a key militant staging area
near a Taliban-held tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
A military statement says forces are attacking at least 600 suspected
militants near Bannu with heavy fire. Local officials reported
Bannu is about 200 kilometers southwest of Swat, where the military has
been battling Taliban fighters for several weeks. On Wednesday the army
said troops killed some 23 fighters in the last 24 hours. Officials
said two soldiers were killed in clashes.
The army also said a local militia in Dir district continues to pursue
Taliban militants. The civilian uprising has been cited as a promising
sign for efforts to turn locals in northwest Pakistan against the
In Peshawar, the main city in the northwest, authorities are searching
for additional victims from Tuesday's suicide attack on a luxury hotel.
The truck bombing outside the Pearl Continental Hotel killed at least
nine people, including two foreign aid workers. Another 70 people were
Initial media reports had cited a higher death toll, but North West
Frontier Province Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told
reporters Wednesday that new information indicated a lower number.
Security camera footage of the attack shows a car driving up to a
security gate, a burst of gunfire erupting from the car, and then the
explosives-filled truck barreling through the checkpoint.
A portion of the hotel was destroyed in the blast.
United Nations Secretary general Ban Ki-Moon condemned the killing of at least two of its staff in the attack.
Pakistani analysts say the attack was clearly designed to pressure the government as it fights Taliban insurgents in the region.
Pakistani authorities say more than 1,300 militants and about 100
soldiers have been killed since the offensive began in late April.