The Pakistani military has sent helicopter gunships to the country's northwest
in support of more than one thousand civilians who have banded together to fight
Pakistani officials said Tuesday that the army helicopters
attacked militants in a village surrounded by local
Authorities in Upper Dir district said at least 1,200
villagers have joined a citizens' militia that has killed militants and set fire
to their homes.
Militia members also pushed the Taliban out of at least
three villages and surrounded two other villages known as Taliban strongholds.
The region is near the Swat Valley, where the Pakistani military has
been battling Taliban fighters for more than a month.
The militia members are seeking to avenge a suicide bombing at a
local mosque that killed at least 38 people.
No one has claimed
responsibility for that attack by a lone suicide bomber, but some officials
suspect militants were taking revenge for the government
Separately, the Pakistani military said Tuesday that it had
killed 27 militants and taken into custody 22 others across the region,
including Swat valley, in the past 24 hours. One soldier was killed and nine
Pakistan says more than 1,300 militants and about 100
soldiers have been killed during the offensive in the past several
On Tuesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said some
40,000 civilians remain in the Swat region without adequate access to
electricity and water. More than two million civilians have been displaced in
Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities have imposed a curfew in
the northwestern town of Bannu after local tribesmen failed to hand over Taliban
militants suspected in recent kidnappings.
Last week, Taliban militants
operating in the area kidnapped a group of students and teachers. Officials said
the 46 students and two teachers were released after negotiations by tribal