More than 50 people have been killed in clashes in western Pakistan,
including 34 in clashes near the Afghan border where security forces
are searching for the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.
The Pakistani army says the ongoing anti-Taliban offensive in North
Waziristan and the greater Swat valley killed 18 suspected militants in
the last 24 hours. A spokesman said 16 soldiers, including three
officers, were also killed in the fighting.
In South Waziristan, officials say a stray mortar shell hit a mosque
during prayers, killing three civilians and wounding seven. It is
unclear who fired the shell.
To the north, in Kurram agency, local officials say 15 militants who
were heading to Afghanistan were killed in a clash with local tribe
members. Officials say two tribesmen were also killed in the battle.
Earlier, Pakistan's government announced it is offering a reward of
$615,000 for information that leads to the capture or death of
Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.
The bounties for Mehsud and 10 other senior militants were published in Pakistani newspapers Sunday.
Mehsud, based in South Waziristan, is blamed for scores of attacks
against government and civilian targets, and is believed to be a key
facilitator for al-Qaida fighters in Pakistan.
The U.S. already has a $5 million bounty offered for Mehsud.
Pakistani fighter jets have pounded suspected Mehsud hideouts in South
Waziristan in recent weeks. Journalists have very limited access to the
remote and dangerous region and frequently are unable to independently
confirm death counts reported by the military.
Army officials have not reported killing any top Taliban leaders in the
ongoing campaign in the tribal areas or in the weeks-long offensive in
the greater Swat valley.